The City of Nanaimo has no authority to require cameras in taxi cabs operating within its municipal boundaries, according to a recent staff report.
Authored by Karen Fry, Nanaimo Fire Rescue chief and the city’s director of public safety, the report states that local governments cannot force taxi cab companies to install cameras inside their vehicles because it falls under provincial regulations and cab companies can only install cameras after they have receive authorization from the province’s Passenger Transportation Board.
The report goes on to suggest that the only way cameras could be installed in cabs at this point is if the companies voluntarily installed them.
During a meeting Monday, Fry told councillors that city staff engaged with the taxi cab companies that operate within Nanaimo, Yellow Cab and AC Taxi, and found out that one of the companies would be willing to install cameras in their vehicles, but only if the other cab company installed cameras in their vehicles as well.
“The other company said they were not prepared to spend that money,” Fry said, adding that because one company said no, neither company will be installing cameras at this time.
Fry’s report also showed that the cost of implementing cameras could be anywhere from $800 to $2,500 per vehicle.
Coun. Jerry Hong told councillors that he was disappointed with the taxi cab companies in Nanaimo because the safety of passengers should come first. He said if he were to take a cab in a city with only two cab companies, but only one of those companies had cameras in their vehicles, the choice would be simple.
“I would be more inclined to go in the one that I feel safer in,” he said.
Hong wondered whether there was any way the city could provide incentives to the taxi cab companies, even just one of the companies, to install cameras in their vehicles.
Sheila Gurrie, city clerk, told councillors that there is an annual chauffeur’s permit that is required for taxi cabs, but that the permits are also run through the RCMP. She said staff would have to check to determine whether there is any way to provide incentives.
Coun. Sheryl Armstrong said installing cameras in vehicles isn’t about catching criminals, but ensuring safety for everyone, adding that she is supportive of finding ways to provide incentives for the cab companies.
“I would like to see if there is a way we could do some type of incentive … whether it is chauffeur’s permit or business licences or something like that,” she said.
Coun. Gord Fuller said there is a lot of stuff on the news lately about cab drivers being assaulted.
“Cameras would go a long way to offer some sense of protection,” he said.
Councillors did not make any decisions during the meeting, only voting to receive Fry’s report.