Taxicab bootlegger bylaw backed by council

Tyler
Tyler Clarke
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Doulat Enterprises Inc. director Rahim Basaria, representing the National Hotel, speaks at Monday’s city council meeting. 

Now that the city’s elected officials have unanimously backed Mayor Greg Dionne’s proposed taxicab bootlegger bylaw it’ll be up to city administration to draft one.

 

The bylaw, when drafted, will ban taxicabs from using drive-thru liquor stores.

“It first came to my attention when some cab drivers visited me and explained to me the issues that they were having,” Dionne explained on Monday. “It’s a safety issue.”

Underage or prohibited taxicab passengers have been using drivers as reluctant bootleggers, he explained, noting that when drivers refuse they face potential violence.

“It’s not a case of us against he drive-thrus, it’s a safety issue for the drivers,” Dionne explained. “They came to us asking if we’d help solve the problem, and I think this will make it a safer community for our cab communities.”

The sole voice of opposition at Monday’s city council meeting was that of Enterprises Inc. director Rahim Basaria, who represented the National Hotel Georgie’s Liquor Store.

Basaria told city council that potential impact could include a loss in sales and revenue and an inability to provide service for special needs clients.

He also claimed that it might result in the city seeing more impaired drivers take to the streets.

Dionne clarified that taxicabs will still be allowed to take people to liquor stores, but that the passenger will have to go inside and purchase the alcohol for themselves.

Coun. Martin Ring said that although he was not supportive of drive-thru liquor stores from the beginning, the proposed bylaw is about protecting taxicab drivers, and isn’t a vote against drive-thru liquor stores.

It first came to my attention when some cab drivers visited me and explained to me the issues that they were having ... It’s a safety issue. Greg Dionne

Although cab companies could technically enforce drive-thru liquor store bans in-company, passenger would flock to other companies, he clarified.

“If we take it away from all the cab companies and we make the playing field level, I think we’re fine.”

During his explanation of the bylaw, Dionne told city council that he’s contacted Regina, Saskatoon and Moose Jaw to find out how they deal with drive-thru liquor stores.

None of these cities have drive-thru liquor stores, he said -- although Regina might have one in the near future.

Prince Albert has two, of which one -- the Prince Albert Brewing Company -- has no objection to the proposed bylaw.

The motion city council unanimously passed on Monday asks the city solicitor to draft an amendment to the taxicab bylaw to prohibit taxicabs from driving through a licenced drinking establishment’s drive-thru.

Since a bylaw has yet to have been written, let alone pass council approval, Coun. Ted Zurakowski noted that it still faces the usual public forum process any bylaw faces.

But, Monday’s unanimous support shows that the city’s elected officials at least tentatively back the bylaw.

Organizations: Enterprises, National Hotel Georgie, Liquor Store Prince Albert

Geographic location: Saskatoon, Moose Jaw

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