VFH Bylaw’s vehicle replacement requirements put unfair burden on taxi operators
by Mike Beggs
(Editor’s note: This is the seventh installment in Taxi News’s series on veteran industry observer Gerry Manley’s monthly letters addressing the many flaws and outright failures inherent in the City of Toronto’s calamitous 2016 Vehicle-For-Hire Bylaw. Readers interested in reading the Manley letter discussed in this article will find it and previous letters in the series posted on here taxinews.com.)
This month’s Manley letter tackles Vehicle Requirements for Replacement of Taxis Versus PTC Vehicles and Limousines, which he deems, “one of the most contentious issues of all within the new bylaw.”
When it comes to vehicle replacement, he says there’s a big double standard. For all three categories, regulations state that, “the vehicle should be no more than seven model years old”, but that’s where the equality ends.
Cabs are subject to Chapter 546-51 C, which states, “No vehicle may be used as a replacement vehicle unless it is: an accessible vehicle: an alternative fuel vehicle, hybrid vehicle, or low emission vehicle; or it is registered as a taxicab, or has been registered as a taxi prior to the date of application for its use as a replacement vehicle.”
By contrast, neither PTC’s, nor limos are bound by 546-51 C, “thereby greatly enhancing their vehicle choices.”
In fact, the only other stipulation placed on PTC’s for replacement is that the vehicle, “has four doors”!
“That’s a monstrous disadvantage,” Manley points out. “It basically limits our car choice, and (increases) the cost. It’s going to be somewhere in excess of $30,000 to $35,000…The business isn’t there to support it. We’ve lost 70 percent of our customer base (to Uber, and Lyft).”
“We both should have the same rules,” he continues. “Why can’t we buy a four-door sedan, as well?”
He considers this just another example of where the powers-that-be at city hall “don’t care, or never give a thought to the eventual outcome of their decisions.”
And while the City of Toronto first started mandating specific vehicles for replacement in efforts to reduce emissions, he notes over the past two decades the federal government has imposed stringent guidelines of its own for emissions on all new cars being manufactured.
“So, why do we need to buy these (specific) type of vehicles?” he asks. “And obviously emissions can’t be a problem anymore, because Ontario has eradicated emissions testing, as of April 1.”
“If the Province of Ontario isn’t worried about emissions, why is the City of Toronto?” he continues. “And if they’re so worried about emissions, why (did they allow) 82,000-plus PTC cars on the road?”
He draws a parallel to the onerous regulations, which have required taxis to put on snow tires for the past 20 years -- and which have now been extended to apply to all VFH vehicles.
“Why don’t they make everybody in the City of Toronto buy these types of (low emission) vehicles? And, why don’t they make their own City fleets buy them? They’re not mandated to do so.”
Given that the definition of a “taxi business” under the federal Excise Tax Act was changed to include PTC’s alongside cabs and limos (as of July 1, 2016), Manley claims this broad range of choice for replacement vehicles gives PTC’s an economic advantage over taxis in Bylaw 546, thereby violating the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which promises every individual is to receive equal benefit and equal protection under the law, without discrimination.
“Mayor Tory, and all the others at City Hall apparently feel they are not obligated to abide by any senior statute and can do whatever they please,” he alleges.
“Vehicle requirements for all categories in the VFH bylaw must be equal in content, and to do otherwise shows the City’s contempt for the Charter and its’ guiding principles, and that attitude must cease immediately.”
He asserts that as a municipal bylaw, Chapter 546, “has no authority to trump a federal statute, never mind two of them.”
He believes this makes the bylaw “ultra vires, redundant, and without effect”, and is calling on the City to shelve Chapter 546 and create another from scratch – this time with meaningful input from its’ long-suffering taxi industry.