With all the talk about Uber lately, the city seems to have overlooked the fact that there may be some issues with our licensed cab companies. In a surprise announcement, Guelph Police has declared that they've revoked the license for Guelph Taxi, an upstart outfit that started running cabs in Guelph in 2013. A Guelph Mercury article in August started highlighting concerns about the operation of Guelph Taxi, which has now culminated in them being effectively out of business in the Royal City.
"Under our bylaw, every premise has to be staffed 24 hours a day, they have to have restroom facilities that customers and employees can go to. These premises have to be fully accessible to disabled persons, and that business is open to the public as well as the 24-hour dispatching," said Guelph police Chief Jeff DeRuyter to CBC Kitchener. "Our concern really ... deals more with the office and the fact of the staffing the office, contacting the office to 24-7 dispatching."
According to the Mercury in August, it appeared as though Guelph Taxi effectively had no offices, and having a "brick and mortar" is amongst the manditory provisions of getting a taxi license under the by-law. That provision has also been the basis through which local cab companies are fighting the encroachment of Uber. Unlike in most municipalities, the Guelph Police Service monitors the regulation of taxis, and not the City of Guelph itself.
"I think what also really brings this to light is the whole situation with Uber and it is our position that we have a bylaw and we're enforcing the bylaw," added DeRuyter. "We have a legislation, and so for the regulated [companies] it's to make sure they comply with the bylaw and for those that aren't regulated we've been using the Highway Traffic Act as far as enforcement against Uber."
Presently, the GPS website only lists Red Top and Canadian Cab as the only licensed taxi operators in the city.
Guelph Taxi meanwhile responded to the CBC request for statment with a short email from "Administration, Guelph Taxi." "We have received your email and can assure you that we are in full compliance of the municipal taxi bylaws," it read. "However, we will give you a response to the improper revocation of our license by the Guelph Police as soon as possible."
Guelph Taxi, which makes no mention of its dicey legal predicament on its website, will be able to appeal at the next Guelph Police Services Board meeting on Thursday October 15.