Red Deer City Council passed the first reading of the proposed changes to the Vehicle for Hire bylaw during the Monday regular council meeting.   

While council was discussing the bylaw, Red Deer taxi drivers gathered outside of city hall showing their opposition to the changes.   

The current bylaw was implemented in 2021, following the introduction of Transportation Network Companies (TNC) and rideshare companies in Red Deer.   

After public and stakeholder engagement, city administration recommended eliminating the cap on taxi plates, replacing age-based restrictions for vehicles with mileage restrictions and quality standards, removing the drop rates for taxis, and simplifying the licensing process.   

“The proposed amendments to this bylaw are a result of our continuous efforts to enhance transportation services in our community. These changes are designed to support our city’s ability to provide dependable transportation options, especially during special events,” said Amy Fengstad, Parking and Licensing Supervisor. “Our goal is to strike a balance between industry demands and customer priorities, such as addressing concerns like reducing wait times, which has been identified as an issue for Red Deerians.”  

A taxi driver for nearly eight months, Nasim Zekria is concerned about eliminating the taxi plate cap in the city.   

“We are already struggling. We are waiting for one hour to take one order. How could they bring more drivers; it would be more competition,” Zekria said. “We established our lives, we depend on this job, we bought houses, we bought the cars for thousands of dollars, we have payments to make, and our families rely on this.”  

The current limit of taxi plates is one for every 750 residents, and one for every 15,000 for accessible taxi plates based on the last census.     

“There's too many plates, there's already more than enough,” Zekria said. “We don't want any more plates out because it's going to bring chaos.”  

Going forward, Red Deer taxi drivers are hopeful to meet with council to discuss the proposed bylaw changes.   

Meanwhile, drivers will continue to protest at city hall until April 29, when the second and third reading of the bylaw will be discussed.