Independent cabbie George Cavic, of Red Deer Taxi. (Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff).

Red Deer cabbie is taking on city hall over the colour of his vehicle

No one should be able to claim white, says George Cavic

A Red Deer cabbie who had his city taxi licence suspended because of the colour of his vehicle is questioning how anyone can trademark standard white?

Independent cab driver George Cavic has been driving his own taxi for hire for the past decade. This spring, he traded his older blue vehicle in for a white 2011 model, since city rules stipulate all licensed vehicles be newer than 13 years.

But when Cavic tried to transfer his taxi licence to his new car, he was denied by the City of Red Deer’s licensing department on grounds his new vehicle is white — the same colour as the competition, the Associated Cabs fleet.

A city licensing bylaw states: “No person shall operate a taxi bearing registered identification colours of a broker … unless the owner of that vehicle is affiliated with that broker.”

Cavic calls this ridiculous, saying his car is clearly marked with his black-printed Red Deer Taxi logo on both front doors.

While he was told he could repaint his vehicle, Cavic noted all city and police vehicles are also white.

“Even somebody who can’t read,” he said, would notice their logos are different from Associated Cabs, which has distinctive blue writing.

Cavic said he has already invested in buying his car, getting a safety check, some repairs and upgrades done, buying insurance, registration and having his logo applied. Repainting the vehicle would cost him another $2,000.

But he’s also fighting the city’s bylaw on principle: “When you register your company provincially or federally, you do not choose your colour, you choose your company name,” said Cavic.

While some corporations have registered their own proprietary specially mixed colours, he doesn’t believe this is possible with standard white. He noted both FedEx and Purolator have white delivery vehicles, the only difference being their logos.

Erin Stuart, inspections and licensing manager for the City of Red Deer, said the local bylaw is similar to many other municipal bylaws when it comes to setting standards for taxi licences.

The document, approved in 2001, does not seek to trademark any colour, but to differentiate those used by different taxi brokers, added Stuart, who maintained it’s up to applicants to use “due diligence” and become aware of local rules.

Red Deer’s taxi bylaw is currently under review. Stuart could not reveal details of what changes are being proposed. Until a new bylaw is approved, she said city staff are bound by the provisions of the existing bylaw.

Cavic said he intends to appeal, saying the city’s rules are undemocratic and impinge on his personal rights. Once his application is filed, he will be contacted for an appeal board hearing within 30 days.

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