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Council lobbied to regulate city’s taxi industry

By Brian Oliver, The Graphic

Wasiq Razzaq addresses Portage la Prairie city council during Monday night’s council meeting. (Submitted)

Wasiq Razzaq addresses Portage la Prairie city council during Monday night’s council meeting. (Submitted)

Portage la Prairie’s taxi industry was at the centre of debate this week as council heard a request to impose stricter regulations on what can only be described as a free-for-all among taxi, shuttle and ride sharing services.

Tulip Limousine Services’ Wasiq Razzaq addressed council during the delegation period at Monday night’s city council meeting calling for stricter regulations on the industry in Portage la Prairie amid the province’s introduction of Bill 30 – legislation which was adopted in 2017 to open up the market for companies like Uber and Lyft.

Razzaq, who worked in the taxi industry in Winnipeg prior to relocating to Portage, requested that council refrain from issuing livery tags – industry jargon for a vehicle used for chauffeured transportation – until a review of The Local Vehicles for Hire Act is complete.

“We don’t have any intention of limiting competition,” Portage la Prairie Mayor Irvine Ferris said Monday. “I understand it’s a very competitive industry, it’s a very tough industry. We don’t see our role as interfering with business and limiting competition in that sense.”

Presently, taxis and shuttles operating in Portage la Prairie are not required to run a meter, nor is there a mandate for CCTV or safety shields. Razzaq made a request for improved safety regulations for drivers and although companies are free to introduce added safety measures, there are no bylaws in place that require them to do so.  

“We will be updating our livery bylaw which impacts the taxi shuttle industry here in Portage. That will be updated this year now that Bill 30 is complete,” Ferris adds. “I would say there are going to be a number of changes.

The Local Vehicles for Hire Act provides municipalities with specific powers to make by-laws regulating the industry.

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