I don't usually provide updates after every City Council meeting, but today was an exceptional meeting.
We discussed and passed new regulations for pet sales, taxi and vehicles for hire, as well as a motion on payday loan stores.
I am pleased to have led the progress at a recent committee meeting that today came to city council and move Ottawa to an all adoption model for cats & dogs in our City.
The new regulations ensure that no new stores entering the market will be selling cats & dogs for a profit. Instead, cats & dogs must be offered under an adoption model from a rescue organization, animal shelter or humane society.
The three existing stores that sell privately bred dogs & cats will have 5 years to transition to the new model. Although I supported shortening the transition for these stores even further - the 5 year period was adopted and I am thankful for the support of Council colleagues.
I believe these new rules reflect our caring city and take meaningful action to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves.
Taxi and vehicles for hire
There has been much discussion with regards to the proposed changes to our taxi and vehicle for hire by-law regulations.
The Community and Protective Services Committee sat for almost 18 hours listening to delegations and debating and today at Council we debated a further 4 hours. The key change was the approval of a new kind of vehicle in Ottawa, a Private Transportation Company (PTC).
PTC's include services like Uber and allow them to operate within our City effective September 30, 2016.
I supported having PTC's install cameras in their vehicles just as taxis must have.
I also supported these PTC vehicles be considered much closer to a taxi type service and governed by many of the same rules.
Ultimately I agreed with some of the Council report and in other ways felt we could have done better for consumers, taxi drivers and PTC drivers.
Through the new vehicle-for-hire regulations, the City of Ottawa has modernized regulations for the traditional taxi industry to allow it to compete more freely, while protecting key features on which residents have come to rely. Some of the changes include:
- Allowing taxi companies to offer reduced fares when rides are booked through an app
- Eliminating the $1.50 credit and debit card fee
- Reducing the taxi driver license fee from $170 to $96
- Eliminating the taxi driver license fee for accessible taxis (from $170 to $0)
- Eliminating interior and trunk size requirements for vehicles
- Allowing taxi companies to determine their own industry-specific customer service training, instead of the $820 standard taxicab driver course at Algonquin College
- Retaining taxis’ exclusive ability to accept street-hails, together with exclusive use of taxi stands and lanes
- Retaining the exclusive Para Transpo contract
- Allowing for nominal cancellation fees and surcharges for premium vehicle options when rides are booked through an app
Without these we have been limited to writing tickets to those who have broken our taxi bylaws, including up to today and further to September 30th - Uber.
Enhanced enforcement powers will better protect residents by empowering our ByLaw officers to immediately take meaningful action on offenders. If you have the opportunity to speak with your MPP, please request they consider supporting the City's request.
I was pleased to support Councillor Fleury's motion that seeks from the Province of Ontario the power to allow the City to restrict the location or number of businesses providing payday loan services.
Often these establishments setup in areas where a significant number of financially vulnerable people live. This 'predatory' lending charges customers crippling fees to borrow often small sums of money, turning them into perpetual clients who can never payback a loan without needing to re-borrow.
I am committed to helping Councillor Fleury advance this issue with the Province in support of our residents.
In closing, if you have questions or comments on any of this or any other issue I always invite you to contact me.
I look forward to continuing to serve your interests at City hall.