It is an honour to serve as Chair for the Community and Protective Services Committee. The breadth of issues and oversight of this committee makes for tremendous diversity in the work that we undertake. Today’s committee meeting is the perfect example of that diversity and of the importance of the work we do. It lasted 4 hours and involved receiving 6 delegations on various topics, 5 of which were with respect to the Vehicle for Hire bylaw. We started by discussing the By-Law Review Workplan for this term of Council. This workplan sets ambitious but realistic goals for our By-Law Review Services team including the review of 34 bylaws or bylaw projects.
The current Vehicle For Hire bylaw was passed in 2016, and it was the focus of today’s discussions. I am proud of the progress we made in approving some technical amendments that include enabling taxis to install soft meters allowing for flexibility in pricing, reducing the number of taxi inspections from 2 to 1 per year, and increasing the cleaning fee for taxis from $50 to $150. Staff will review several aspects of the bylaw in 2021 as part of a minor amendments report. These changes will further strengthen our Vehicle For Hire bylaw, ensuring that no matter the mode of transportation citizens choose – be it a taxi, Lyft or Uber – the city has a strong and relevant bylaw in place to regulate the industry and ensure safety.
Perhaps most importantly, today’s committee also asked staff to examine and report back on the feasibility of undertaking a study on the issues and concerns being raised with respect to accessible transportation services. It is apparent to me that we do not yet have an accessible on-demand taxi service that meets the needs of our community. I believe the steps we’ve taken today are a very positive start to analyzing what the issues are and committing to work on them.
Committee also discussed how provincial funding would be allocated over the next 3 years to address maintenance of our social housing, while also focusing on affordability. There continues to be a growing need in our city for social housing, and committee oversight into this critical function is paramount to ensuring we keep our residents’ needs in focus.
Lastly, committee approved a new 5-year plan for childcare and early years services. The plan was developed collaboratively with dozens of stakeholders, resulting in a plan focused on improving the quality of services and increasing access for our community. I commend staff for their hard work in developing this plan. It is evident that it was done with our children in mind.
And that’s a wrap! It’s just a small glimpse into what the Community and Protective Services Committee entails and the breadth of issues we tackle on a regular basis.