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Council Votes Against Increased Taxi Fees at Airport

Fort McMurray, AB, Canada / MIX 103.7

Your wallet won’t be taking an additional hit for using Sun Taxi at the airport.

Wood Buffalo council voted against proposed changes to the vehicle for hire bylaw on Tuesday.

This would have included making passengers pay the $3 service fee charged to drivers by the airport, a $5 surcharge for people who request a van from Fort McMurray and $10 from the rural hamlets, and an increase from $75 to $200 if a driver needs to clean their vehicle because of the actions of the occupant.

Councillor Keith McGrath tells Mix News this is an issue he believes they should have never had to deal with.

‘If you give someone a contract based on the merits of the RFP, you live up that RFP from start to finish, you don’t change rules halfway through because how fair is that.”

Sun Taxi and the Fort McMurray Airport Authority had previously signed a contract.

This gave the taxi service priority over all fares from the airport. In return, drivers were required to pay $3 each time they returned from a trip, a fee which was put in place because they had access to a heated bathroom and paved parkways.

The contract is set to expire in June 2019.

“The $3 fare is not about passing it onto the public, what it is is a contractual obligation that was in an open RFP and how fair would it be if halfway through you change this and award it to someone else,” added McGrath.

Manager of Sun Taxi Penny Skinner took the time to speak to council. She emphasized the struggles her drivers are currently going through.

“You tell me how much I can charge, you tell me how much I have to keep my business open but we don’t get a raise here. We’re asking for help from the bylaw, we’re asking for help from council – we don’t get to raise our prices, we get no option.”

She notes, in the contract, it never states that they have to pay the $3 fee.

Mayor Don Scott did vote in favour of the changes along with Councillors Mike Allen and Jane Stroud. He says he does have some concerns for these drivers, specifically around cleaning fees.

“I wanted to stand with our taxi drivers and I thought it was appropriate – and the $75 fee was not realistic for our community.”

After the motion was defeated, Mix News reached out to Skinner who didn’t want to comment at this time.

Meanwhile, council also passed separate motions to disband the Taxi Advisory Committee and replace it with a minimum of two taxi stakeholder open houses per year and have administration review the current vehicle for hire bylaw over the next six months.

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