Should the town pay for taxi inspections?

Jonathan Riley, Digby Courier
Published on April 9, 2014
Town councillor Bob Handspiker

Councillor Bob Handspiker wants taxi drivers in Digby to pay for their own motor vehicle inspections.

Last year the Town of Digby paid $690 for three inspectors from the Motor Vehicle Branch of the Department of Transportation to inspect the eight taxis licensed in Digby.

Handspiker says he called around to nearby towns to see how they handled this—most let the taxi owner have their vehicle inspected at a garage and the taxi owner pays.

Some towns, like Digby, have the inspections done by provincial inspectors.

“Some towns have chosen to go this route rather than get the MVI done at a local garage as they felt the inspection was not done well enough,” says Handspiker in his report. “Public safety should not be jeopardized but neither should the taxpayer’s hard earned dollars. Regardless of who conducts the MVI, it should not be the taxpayer who pays.”

Dividing the $690 by eight gives $86 that Handspiker feels each taxi owner should pay.

Taxicab owners currently pay $30 annually for an owner’s license in Digby; and operators pay $10 for an operator’s license; for a total of $40 per cab.

Those numbers will change this coming year as the Motor Vehicle Branch will only be sending two inspectors instead of three, dropping the bill to $460 or $57 per taxi.

So if everything remains the same, the town will be subsidizing each taxi inspection by $17.

The taxi inspection is scheduled this year for May 15.

Deputy mayor Jean Brittain told Handspiker the inspections could be considered a transportation subsidy, like the town pays for the Kings Transit bus to come through town.

The town pays $4,000 to the municipality towards the cost of the bus coming downtown.

Handspiker said he’d like to see the taxi by-law updated – it was written in 2006; he’d like to see it changed to say the taxi owners will pay for the inspection; and he’d like to see the by-law address smoking in cabs as well.

Handspiker first brought up his concerns at a committee of the whole meeting on Monday, March 17 as councillors considered the payables or bills to be paid.

This Monday, April 8 he handed out copies of a report on the issue and had it added to the agenda.

The mayor however suggested council would have more time to discuss the issue at the next committee of the whole meeting on Tuesday, April 22.