The City of Red Deer gave initial approval to a new bylaw that would regulate local taxi companies, as well as ride share services. (File photo)

The City of Red Deer gave initial approval to a new bylaw that would regulate local taxi companies, as well as ride share services. (File photo)

Red Deer city council gives initial approval to new vehicle-for-hire bylaw

Taxis and ride-share services are both covered by proposed regulations

A vehicle-for-hire bylaw that seeks to bring regulatory parity to two very different business models — taxis and designated driver services — was given initial approval on Monday by Red Deer city council.

Councillors heard the bylaw reflects input from the public and taxi, limousine and designated driver services over the past two years.

The proposed bylaw “works to balance the regulations across the industry with the needs of the Red Deer market to allow for both new and traditional business models,” said Amy Fengstad, the city’s parking and licensing supervisor.

Under the proposed rules, traditional taxi and limousine companies would have greater flexibility and autonomy to make their own business decisions, said Fengstad.

There’s also a greater opportunity for Uber and Lyft and other ride-share services to operate under the bylaw, “while preserving safety and fairness across the industry.”

The proposed rules would pertain to all vehicles for hire.

The bylaw would reduce mechanical inspections to once per year for transportation network companies and limousines. It would also remove compliance inspections for all vehicles for hire and consolidate the brokerage licence and vehicle-for-hire driver licence, along with corresponding fees.

There would be a six-month, short-term driver licence, and a change in the fee structure, to reflect the number of vehicles in a brokerage.

The proposed bylaw would come into effect on Sept. 1, 2021, pending final approval.

Several city councillors praised municipal staff for addressing industry representatives’ concerns, and achieving a good balance in the proposed bylaw.

But council directed administration to bring back further information on the impacts of reducing the driver licence fee from $100 to $50 when final approval is discussed in about four weeks.

“There’s never going to be 100 per cent agreement, but there’s some strong consensus,” on what had been an extremely divisive issue, said Mayor Tara Veer.

Red Deer City Council