A cab in downtown Whitehorse. Taxi drivers in the city may soon have to take mandatory training, pending the passage of a new vehicle-for-hire bylaw. (Ian Stewart/Yukon News file)

Whitehorse to require taxi training if council passes bylaw change

Proposal comes after women’s groups raise safety concerns

The City of Whitehorse may offer mandatory training for taxi drivers starting this year.

Tom Wyers, bylaw services supervisor with the city, said that if a new vehicle-for-hire bylaw gets council approval, the three-to-four day training course will be offered beginning this fall.

In 2019, he said it will cost money to take the course, but, pending council approval, if drivers sign up for one of the three course dates tentatively slated for September, October and November, the course will be free.

The course will be taught by Kyle Morrison, an education officer with the city.

Wyers said Morrison was trained to teach the course by the Justice Institute of British Columbia (JIBC), which has been offering taxi driver training since 1996.

Harry Randhawa, a coordinator and instructor with JIBC, said the course was developed as a response to inconsistency among drivers in B.C. in the 1990s.

It was made mandatory, and a requirement under bylaws in the Lower Mainland, along with hardwired cameras. The new Whitehorse vehicle-for-hire bylaw also calls for these.

“There were so many issues that we were seeing at the time,” Randhawa told the News. “Some companies were doing excellent in terms of training, others were basically like, if you had a heartbeat you could get on the road. We needed some kind of consistency.”

Randhawa said JIBC was a pioneer when it came to taxi training, and has been around longer than any other training service in Canada.

As such, “we pretty much consulted with every jurisdiction that has (come up with training) since then,” he said.

Training focusses on road safety, but also on passenger and driver safety and good hosting. There’s a day devoted to service standards and tourism (“Drivers are ambassadors and they’re an integral part of tourism infrastructure,” Randhawa said.), and a day devoted to access and inclusion for those with disabilities, including, he said, visual impairment.

The City of Whitehorse’s vehicle-for-hire bylaw was re-written in 2015 to include stricter record checks, different cameras, and services for those with disabilities. Most of those rules came into effect in May 2017.

The new draft came about after a number of women’s groups raised concerns with council in late 2017 over passenger safety. At the time, RCMP had recently charged a taxi driver with the sexual assault of two women passengers.

Contact Amy Kenny at amy.kenny@yukon-news.com

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