Bylaw beefs
Taking care of taxis

Maria Canton
Northern News Services

Iqaluit (Feb 07/00) - Tired of hearing complaints in his off-time and with a nudge from members of a town committee, Jonathan Ellsworth decided to do something about Iqaluit taxi cabs and the fares.

"It isn't one thing in particular that we have problems with," said Ellsworth, who is a bylaw enforcement officer in town.

"It's about making both the public and the drivers aware of the different provisions of the taxi bylaw."

Cab drivers travelling too fast and smoking in taxis by both passengers and drivers are common complaints reported to bylaw during both business hours and after work.

"Normally we have disgruntled members of the public who don't want to pursue any course of action," said Ellsworth.

So, in order to combat what Ellsworth says has been a growing problem since the summer ended, he prepared and hand delivered letters to each of the seven cab company owners in Iqaluit.

The letters outlined the provisions of the taxi bylaw and proposed placing non-smoking placards in each of the 56 taxis in town and asked for a response from the owners.

Stephane Monttetit, one of three owners at Pai-Pa Taxi, says they do all they can to ensure their drivers are complying with all of the bylaws that govern his business.

"Basically we always follow the bylaw and we had non-smoking stickers in our cars, but they wear off over time," said Monttetit.

"It's tricky because how can I be totally responsible for regulating no smoking? We do our part in that we tell them not to smoke, our part of the deal is done."

Monttetit says he normally receives several complaints from passengers, some of which involve drivers going too fast or that service is too slow.

"The time that you have to wait to get picked up is related to the road conditions.

"The town is growing and the number of vehicles is increasing, you have to allow at least 15 minutes for a taxi to get to where you are."

As for smoking, he says that although drivers are sometimes guilty of the offence, it is also passengers who insist on smoking, particularly those who are intoxicated.

"I don't want my drivers to get into fights with passengers. And it's already happened where two passengers got into a (physical) fight about smoking in the taxi," he said.

And as for placing non-smoking placards in cabs, Monttetit says they are willing to replace the ones that have worn off, but he thinks perhaps the town could absorb the cost of buying the placards.