A Williams Lake City Councillor has voted against endorsing and supporting an amendment to the Passenger Transportation Act requiring local taxi companies to have at least one wheelchair accessible vehicle within their fleet.
Councillor Craig Smith said no to the resolution which returned to Tuesday’s regular council meeting.
He says he’s not against the resolution in principle and that he does sees the Accessibility Advisory Committee’s point.
“If we were a bigger City, then I’d be all for this. If there were two taxi companies and one has the wheelchair vehicle they would get more of the business. I think in my mind either we have to find some funding for a taxi company to be able to buy one of these because they’re not cheap or we have to talk to the Go-Bus to extend hours or routes.”
Smith’s vote was defeated by his fellow Councillors and Mayor Walt Cobb, who will now officially endorse the resolution at the upcoming NCLGA and UBCM.
“It’s a small town and we have one taxi service. So my worry is that if we legislate somebody to spending that amount of money and they look at the dollars and cents and decide not to buy the vehicle then they don’t purchase the taxi service and then we’re out,” says Smith who adds that he’s also concerned of Uber because even though they are not yet in B.C, they are not regulated and therefore cannot be told or required to have a wheelchair accessible cab.
The Accessibility Advisory Committee has been an advocate for the support of Council to create and implement a Bylaw that would have Taxi companies in Williams Lake maintain an accessible vehicle in their fleet for the past three years.
Although Several larger municipalities have incorporated Bylaws to address the need for accessible transportation, smaller communities require assistance through the Passenger Transportation Act.
“We approved the resolution to go forward to have a wheelchair accessible taxi, not just accessible but that has wording that we had actually changed in the resolution because there is a difference.” says Mayor Walt Cobb in an interview last week following a Committee of the Whole Meeting. “I know with my wife being in a wheelchair that we go to a hotel it says it’s accessible but it’s not necessary wheelchair accessible so we had to make sure that was defined.”