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The reason many new taxi service proposals have been rejected in the past, despite community support, is that the Ministry of Transportation says that the 24 licenses currently in the city are enough. 23 of those licenses are held by one company, meaning it holds almost all of the control of how many cabs are on the street at any time.

Aylward maintains that seven to ten taxis are all that’s needed at one time. However, even city councillors believe that’s not enough.

Councillor Byron Stewart, who manages the Lido Theatre, says he constantly deals with a shortage of taxis when trying to get his patrons home safe. “I see this every night, especially this time of year, at the Lido,” he says. “We have several people who want to be getting home. For me, this is a very large frustration.”

Councillor Bruce Christensen agrees, and says that in the Fort St. John’s dealings with the Ministry of Transportation, the reply is always that the city has enough licenses: “They always come back to the licenses; they don’t look at the actualities and how many pieces of rubber are on the road.”

At the October 11, 2011 City Council meeting, council decided to speak with the Ministry and the Board about this situation, as well as Peace River South MLA Blair Lekstrom. A letter has been sent to the Ministry, and the meeting with Lekstrom has been moved to the new year.

However, at Monday’s City Council meeting, council once again resolved to bring this issue to the Ministry, as well as write a letter responding to Aylward’s opposition and in support of Thompson’s proposal. That’s in addition to the 500 letters of support included in Thompson’s proposal.

Mayor Lori Ackerman sees no reason why Aylward should hold almost all of the licenses: “If we have entrepreneurs who are willing to put themselves out there to start a business, then I see absolutely no reason why we should have what almost looks like a monopoly.”

She adds, “I think in general I’ve had more complaints about cab service in this community than pretty much anything else. I believe that the City of Fort St. John needs to step up to the plate and have a conversation with the Ministry of Transportation about the way that they approve these applications.”

Letters in support or opposition of Bernard Thompson’s application #195-11 can be sent to the following adddress:

Passenger Transportation Branch
Box 9850 STN PROV GOVT
Victoria, B.C.
V8W 9T5
202 – 940 Blanshard Street, Victoria, B.C.
Phone: 250-953-3777
Fax: 250-953-3788
Email: ptboard@gov.bc.ca

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