Taxi fight at city hall now featuring irate constituents chasing councillors on foot

Taxi fight at city hall now featuring irate constituents chasing councillors on foot

A taxi on a Toronto street (Image: amber dawn pullin)

The debate over how to fix Toronto’s controversial two-tier system for taxi licensing got a little weirder yesterday. The day started off normally enough: Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong told the Licensing and Standards Committee that the two-tier system that he helped invent has had both flaws and advantages. But that didn’t go over so well with the 30-odd taxi drivers in attendance who hold the second-class Ambassador licenses, who chased him down a hallway, shouting all the while.

From the Toronto Star:

Ambassador drivers in the audience began shouting “shame” before he had finished his sentence. When he left the room, the drivers followed him outside to shout at him again. And when he eventually attempted to retreat to his office, one driver chased him while waving a photo of a driver who recently died.

The unusually emotional City Hall skirmish foretold a reform debate certain to be ferocious. It will formally begin in September, after the city’s licensing department finalizes a plan for industry consultation. The department will not produce recommendations until 2012.

So, the city will take until the fall simply to agree on how the consultation process will go forward (assuming a staff report sails through council) before actual consultations can start. That means there’s no way this thing will get resolved until next year, and we wager the results will still upset at least one of the groups, if not both. What’s more, the first-class licensees are numerous and influential at the municipal level and will do everything they can to keep competition from the Ambassador drivers down. Minnan-Wong should probably start training—chances are he’ll be running down more hallways in the days to come.

Minnan-Wong chased down hall as taxi war off to raucous start [Toronto Star]
Ambassador cabby loses licence after attack [Toronto Sun]
City to study woes of taxi-licensing industry [Globe and Mail]
Taxi controversy boils over at City Hall [National Post]