Taxi drivers in the city will likely soon have to apply for a criminal record check before they can get behind the wheel.
In a notice of motion presented by Coun. Bernd Staeben at Monday night’s meeting of Corner Brook city council, the city would repeal its taxi regulations of 2002, adopting new regulations that would make the record check mandatory.
If the background check is clean, a licence can be issued. If not, an evaluation process would be required to determine whether the licence would be issued or not.
Though there were other small changes, that was the driving force behind the new regulation proposal.
Following the meeting, Staeben said the city has received numerous complaints about the state of the taxis over the last few years, including from the Port Authority with regard to the large number of tourists that visit the city each on year cruise ships.
He said the recent sexual assault cases involving taxi drivers in St. John’s and Halifax were also eye-openers.
The city began looking to see what it needed to do to enhance the taxi experience in the city, focusing on the drivers, the vehicles, and even the taxi stands themselves.
“No doubt about it, the criminal record check is the key,” Staeben said. “But I think we’re just looking for a major upgrade overall.”
He wasn’t aware if a criminal record check is a standard requirement in most municipalities, but he said it is in St. John’s.
Applying for the background check comes with a $25 fee, but Staeben said the city will foot that bill for the first year to expedite the process.
“So there wouldn’t be any undue hardships,” he said. “A sign of good will from us, really.”
The official motion will be brought forward at the public council meeting on March 26. Assuming it is passed, there would then be a 90-day period for taxi drivers to meet the new regulations.
“To give everybody a chance to do their thing,” Staeben said. “You don’t want 60-70 people at the RNC looking for record checks at one time.”