I’d like to clarify misconception about bottom of the barrel comments

In the Friday the 15th edition of this newspaper, an article regarding my appearance before city council took up a fair amount of space.

I was not informed of the impending publishing of this article nor was I consulted as to its content. Had that courtesy been extended I would certainly have been appreciative.

As it stands, although It wasn’t my intention, I’m sure the article will focus attention on the problem we’ve had with the severe handicap that the city and the local RCMP have imposed on our ability to attract and hire drivers.

I would like to correct any misconception that might arise from a comment pertaining to the RCMP “leaving us with the bottom of the barrel.” I certainly was not in any way, referring to our current drivers, a group of individuals, more than a few who have served this city a decade and twice that long,  that carry out quite well, the maintaining of Bee-Line’s long established reputation for efficient, courteous service.

That comment was made in one of many vain attempts to help council see that leaving us an empty “barrel” to choose from, gives us no choice about who we hire and because of this we’ve had to deal with a lot of unfortunate and expensive experiences that could have been prevented had we had the same selective process in place that taxi companies in most Canadian cities take for granted.

The cost to anyone possessing a class-four licence, to get behind the wheel of a cab in Courtenay, is zero. The cost for the same driver to get behind the wheel of a cab in Campbell River is: $40 for a criminal record check, $15 to $20 for passport photos, $25 for fingerprinting, a total of 90 to 95 dollars. The waiting time in Courtenay, is a matter of a few days, the waiting time in Campbell River, for most of our experience, usually a matter of months.

I keep being told that what is being done to drivers and owners in Campbell River is a federally-mandated policy. Federally mandated law is universally applied, not just here and there according to dictates of local authorities.

For instance, Port Hardy requires a criminal record check for taxi drivers, it is free and takes about three days, there is no fingerprinting, annually or otherwise.

I will happily take any one on city council or any city staffer, for a tour of taxi stands and police stations from Port Hardy to Victoria, and if during the course of this tour, it is determined that most cities or towns, fingerprint nearly every new chauffeurs applicant and the majority of the established drivers on an annual basis, at the drivers’ expense, I will drop my argument.

Ray Lustig

Bee-Line Taxi

EDITOR’S NOTE: Appearances before city council are a matter of public record and as such, are open to the public to witness. The media’s role is to report on the deliberations of your local government, serving as the public’s surrogate.

Any submissions to council, be they written or made in person are on the public record and anything said or submitted to council can and will be reported – just as the councillors’ responses and deliberations are equally open to reporting.

We don’t need permission to do this, the deliberations of municipal government must be open to public and therefore media scrutiny.

– Alistair Taylor, Editor