Downsizing Toronto Council is one way to clean house
by Andy Réti
In my last article I expressed my fervent hope that some of the socialist (read: communist) councillors who were the creators of the disastrous mess of the taxi industry will be gone after the October elections.
Due to the efforts of Ontario Premier Doug Ford it will become a reality because the number of councillors will be reduced to 25. A few additional items of importance are also in the mix and I hope they will bring some other welcomed news for our beleaguered industry.
The so-called “Review”, after an 18 month delay, has finally begun. My friend Gerry Manley received an official letter from the Province that the cost of the wheelchair vans should be shouldered or at the minimum, be subsidized by the City. The letter was received on the first day of the Review when the topic was wheelchair vans. However the most important news is that the City will deliver their response to our $1.7 Billion claim in the first week of October. The timing for these events is rather interesting to say the least.
The difference between a reporter and a columnist is the expression of personal opinions vs. reporting of events on a factual basis. On September 17, the first day of the Review (discussing Toronto Taxicab Licences, which are the wheelchair vans) I had the full intention to be a reporter, which I was for a number of years for a number of different publications. Upon seeing and hearing what was going on, I reverted to being a columnist in no time at all. In other words, I did not like what I saw and heard.
Without going into too much detail, let’s just say that this “review” will be no different from all the others I attended over the last 30 years. I am afraid the process is smoke and mirrors to satisfy the mandate of the Municipal Act and the City of Toronto Act.
Here is a sample question, 6(a): “What other issues exist with the current regulations for the ground transportation industry?” They need to ask? How about 65,000 extra units eating into our business! I couldn’t make this up if I tried. Based on this question alone I am convinced that Tracey Cook’s final report will not bring any relief to the industry.
They also wanted to hear suggestions to relieve congestion. I am constantly reminded about John “Uber is here to stay” Tory. If Uber wasn’t here to stay, we might have a chance. However, if anybody thinks that the report will make one iota of difference to our business or recommend that Uber should go away is dreaming in technicolour.
I believe we were lucky that the judge who decided the issue of downsizing City Council by the Ford government was given a very strong message about NOT tinkering with issues that are outside of his domain. I think this decision is a portent of things to come for the taxi industry. I believe it will have repercussion for the City as to which part of the bylaw they can choose to enforce and which part to ignore and when to ignore it.
The good judge thought he can mix and match parts of the law and come up with his own result. That is exactly what the City did when they ignored all the warnings that making the owners shoulder the cost of a wheelchair van was NOT what the law was designed to do. I also hope that the judges who will be hearing our $1.7 Billion claim will be mindful as to what the City is permitted to do as far as enforcement of existing laws are concerned.
I am also hoping that the new Government will review the terrible City of Toronto Act which we begged the previous Government not to pass in the format pertaining to taxi and limousine issues. The answer at the time given to us was “we believe that the City of Toronto is a mature responsible government”. How is that working out so far, especially for the approximately 500 wheelchair van owners? Could we please have a reality check? Go Ford, go! And don’t stop till you straighten out the current mess at City Hall. I would also really like to see term limits for councillors, some of whom are way beyond their best before date. I am hoping that we have seen the last of a whole bunch of them.
In my previous columns I have written about our new organization, All Taxi Owners and Operators Ltd. A few people have asked why a new organization was formed and what happened to the previous one? The answer is that we wanted to take the City to task while the previous group had different goals. As to what happened to them? We don’t know. We hope that in the near future they will start working with us on a common goal, which is to save our dying business.
If you want to know more, please attend the first General Meeting of ATOOL on October 10, 2018 at 6pm at the Montecassino Banquet Hall, 3710 Chesswood Dr. North York. Please see our ad in this issue of Taxi News.