Whitehorse Daily Star

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Photo by Vince Fedoroff

TAKING ON A SERIOUS ISSUE – Representatives of three local organizations address the issue of taxi safety during Monday evening’s city council meeting. Shown from left to right are Sarah Murphy, the program co-ordinator at the Victoria Faulkner Women’s Centre; Elaine Michaud, the executive director of Les EssentiElles; and Collyn Lovelace, the co-ordinator of the Yukon Women’s Coalition. She is also affiliated with the Yukon Women’s Transition Home Society.

Improve women’s safety in cabs, city urged

Local women’s groups are calling on the City of Whitehorse to make changes to the vehicle for hire bylaw aimed at improving safety for women using taxis.

By Stephanie Waddell on December 5, 2017

Local women’s groups are calling on the City of Whitehorse to make changes to the vehicle for hire bylaw aimed at improving safety for women using taxis.

Sarah Murphy, the program co-ordinator at the Victoria Faulkner Women’s Centre; Elaine Michaud, executive director of Les EssentiElles; and Collyn Lovelace, the co-ordinator of the Yukon Women’s Coalition and who’s with the Yukon Women’s Transition Home Society, made a presentation to city council Monday night.

They called for the changes in light of concerns over alleged sexual assaults involving cab drivers in the city.

Lovelace highlighted past cases. Those include a case that is still before the courts where a cab driver has been charged with sexually assaulting two female passengers.

“We must speak out and take action,” Murphy said.

The groups then put forward 10 recommendations and presented council with letters from 41 people supporting the organizations’ proposals.

Video footage

A major change proposed for the bylaw would be in the requirements for video footage.

Cabs are currently required to have cameras in place and collect footage.

However, the three groups’ representatives pointed out the cameras can be disabled and footage can be erased after 72 hours.

Included in the list of recommendations are proposals that would require footage to be sent to the city after every 24 hours.

The proposals would see similar cameras to those installed in city buses, where the cameras can’t be disabled.

“It’s very difficult to have some checks that are done, because we never know when someone will come forward with a complaint or anything like that.” Michaud said.

“So if the recordings are only kept for 72 hours, not really checked, or checked randomly, or not (checked) very often, then a lot of the evidence that could be needed if someone wanted to go forward and press charges, that evidence would be gone.”

The three groups also pointed out many victims of assault may not come forward about the crime until long after 72 hours – and the footage may have been erased by that point.

Other changes to the bylaw the groups are calling for would see cab companies develop procedures on how they would handle situations where a driver is accused of assault, and sign onto a set of standards that hold drivers accountable.

Also included in the recommendations are:

• calls to the city to research what other jurisdictions do to ensure passengers’ safety in taxis;

• a public education campaign on the vehicle for hire bylaw so there’s more awareness about the requirement for cabs to have cameras;

• developing a minimum and maximum number of cabs that companies would have;

• displaying driver’s information in cabs and how complaints can be made;

• creating a training and accreditation program for drivers; and

• creating a committee that would be focused on taxi safety.

City council members noted their own concerns on the issue following the presentation.

Mayor Dan Curtis encouraged the group to keep working on the issue.

“(The city) takes this very seriously,” he said.

Coun. Dan Boyd later continued the discussion as new business, noting: “I would like to see this go somewhere. If we can do more, I’d like to do more.”

Bylaw manager Dave Pruden said the department has met with the women’s groups and the Yukon government, and is continuing efforts to ensure compliance with the current bylaw.

“We’re continuing to work on it,” Pruden said.

The department will soon be able to provide a more detailed report about the city’s current work, as well as a response to the recommendations presented to council, he added.

Comments (6)

Up 5 Down 0

Josey Wales on Dec 7, 2017 at 7:55 am

Hey ladies...if you are actually reaching out to our civic “leadership” for a solution and to keep you safe......wow?
Dave’s department has done absolutely f/a in our community ensuring any level of safety, much less an acceptable one.
The folks that oversee that department and interact with our M division are far, far too distracted with personal agendas to give anything but the OPTICS of a concern.
The civic team could not plan a birthday party without epic cost overruns,
absolute ineptness that is s.o.p.
See not all cultures are the same, in our race to the bottom with diversity we have flooded the 21st century with the seventh century sycophants as we apparently have no “skilled” cab drivers in our Yukon.
I suspect heaps of local censure on said topic of cultural clashes that result in violence, not only in our disgusting cab scene, but in our schools, at work etc.
.....hence bill M103 brought to you by the same folks that RAM diversity down our gullets in their typical arrogant liberal way.
Since we reside in the murder capital of Canadastan, have completely overdosed on PC sycophants kool-aid and have M103 percolating though our diversified house of uncommon no sense...maybe travel with a piglet?
As it will only get worse, before folks step up to the plate....and deal with it themselves.
Decades of malfeasance and the PC Crusaders along with their minions of virtue signallers had a big part in creating this violent sh**hole we used to be proud to call home.

Up 3 Down 0

My Opinion on Dec 7, 2017 at 4:06 am

@ROREX1983

So what makes you think bus drivers are safer? Are they better vetted? Then why don't we vet the Taxi's the same way or are we too Politically Correct?

Up 0 Down 4

Ginger Johnson on Dec 6, 2017 at 1:19 pm

More female taxi drivers for female only clients please

Up 3 Down 1

Rorex1983 on Dec 6, 2017 at 1:08 pm

Like if this is the best that we come up with then we should just cancel taxi's all together and extend bus service 24 hours. That is a way better idea then this hold footage for all cabs forever with supposedly tamper proof camera's.

Up 4 Down 0

Rorex1983 on Dec 6, 2017 at 1:06 pm

"41 people supporting the organizations’ proposals" Wow that's a lot of support...lol
Imagine all the hard drive space required to store all the footage. Did they even really think about this. City would need to build a new building just to store it. and the footage would have to be sent on hard drives cause it would be too large to email or anything.

Look I agree we have a serious issue with sexual assaults and taxi's in this town but how are cameras really going to prevent that??? Can't be disabled?? Really so if you stick tape over the lens it will magically see thru??? Lol. Seriously people think!!

@martin Panic button makes way more sense.

Up 1 Down 1

martin on Dec 5, 2017 at 7:03 pm

Recommending that footage to be sent to the city every 24 hours?. There would be some privacy concerns here. Big brother would be watching. Why don't provide a panic button to the RCMP in the back seat just for the riders? And if disabled, there should a light indicating that

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