Cobourg taxi industry may be in for big changes

By Cecilia Nasmith

A motion by Cobourg Councillor Adam Bureau could open the door to big changes in the town's taxi infrastructure.

A motion was on the floor at this week's committee-of-the-whole meeting to amend the section of the town's taxi bylaw for an exception to the limit of 19 taxis in the municipality to permit an accessible taxi to operate. Bureau immediately called for an amendment to scrap all limits on the number of taxis permitted, accessible and otherwise.

His motion also called on staff to begin investigations on ride-sharing services such as Lyft and Uber. The process, of course, will involve input from both members of the public and workers in this particular sector.

Mayor John Henderson explained that the limit was based on a formula of permitting one taxi per 1,000 population.

“Have you consulted with some of the existing taxicab companies in bringing forward this amendment?” Councillor Emily Chorley asked Bureau.

“No, but I have been listening to the residents of Cobourg on wait times,” he replied.

Waits of one to two hours, regardless of the time of day, are not uncommon, Bureau said.

“Waiting two hours at 2 in the morning – I don't like that at all. We need to get folks home safe.”

“I have received numerous complaints in regard to wait times or (taxis) not being available,” Councillor Brian Darling added.

“I also have listened to people on things as simple as going to the grocery store in the middle of the day who can't get a cab,” Deputy Mayor Suzanne Seguin agreed.

“We need to take another look at how we get people from A to B, and buses sometimes don't do it.”

Councillor Nicole Beatty remarked on the growth of the ride-sharing business, and liked the idea of the town approaching it in a proactive way.

Bureau's amendment was put to a vote and passed.