Prince Edward County council has granted a reprieve to a local taxi company but installed conditions to ensure licensing requirements are strictly adhered to over the next 12 months.
After listening to submissions made by Terry Rand of Terry’s Taxi Service and chief building official Andy Harrison at a hearing requested for by Rand at the start of Tuesday’s regular meeting, council voted in favour of reinstating the licences for the company’s fleet of six vehicles provided the operator satisfies a number of conditions.
Rand’s request for a hearing came about when the County’s building and bylaw office refused to grant licenses in late September after a pair of motor vehicle inspection certificates were confirmed to have been altered and the application was lacking the proper certifications.
According to a report issued by Harrison, Rand made his annual application for operator and vehicle licenses on Sept. 29, 2018, the last possible day to meet the annual deadline.
Rand submitted a package containing applications for the renewal of six vehicle licenses, but only two Safety Standards Certificates.
Harrison stated in the report the dates on the two certificates appeared to be altered and the municipality obtained copies of the originals from the motor vehicle inspection station undertaking the inspections.
The municipality verified the vehicle inspection dates had been altered on copies submitted with the application package and the other vehicles appear not to have been inspected.
According to Harrison’s report to council, Rand has ran afoul of the municipality a number of times.
In the last five years, having pled guilty to operating a taxi without a licence and without a mechanical fitness certificate, having been cited with failure to abide by the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act for not having numbers on the rear of each of his vehicles and has been late in presenting safety certificates to the County office a number of times.
Rand was brief in his remarks, stating that he had served the county for 24 years and his livelihood has employed 18 local people.
Rand mentioned he daily contracts with a number of entities including social services, the cement plant and the mushroom farm
“I’ve made a few mistakes,” Rand said. “I made a mistake bringing in my safeties in late that’s my fault.”
Councillor Steve Graham asked Rand directly about the doctored safety certificates and the company’s owner couldn’t answer as to why the certificates were in the application envelope other than the certificates were for other vehicles Rand was transferring at the time.
“I don’t know what happened there,” Rand told Graham. “I don’t know why those safeties were in that envelope, they were for vehicles that were going into my name.”
Cross checking the certificates in the application, the Ministry of Transportation safeties were for a 2009 Dodge Caravan and a 2012 Dodge Caravan, neither of which are year models indicated among the six vehicles Rand had listed in his application.
While Rand claimed to have Safety Standard Certificates for all six of his fleet vehicles in his possession, Councillor Gord Fox asked Harrison if Rand was in compliance currently and the chief building officer said Rand wasn’t.
Fox also asked about liability and Harrison said the municipality would carry liability for allowing the operation of taxis on local roadways that did not meet the standards and requirements in the County’s bylaws.
Harrison added drivers could be charged individually for driving taxis they know are not in compliance and operators may not have insurance coverage if they are not properly licenced by a regional authority.
Under the conditional approval council was considering Tuesday, Rand would need to produce safety certification on all his vehicles within seven days and comply with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act.
Rand would then need to produce current Safety Standards Certificates on all six vehicles no later than March 1 and make a reapplication to the bylaw office no later than Sept. 30, 2019 — again with all documentation and safety certifications included in the package.
Harrison said a motion approving the licences contingent on satisfying conditions was ‘almost like probation.”
“If he misses any of those deadlines, or is caught operating any vehicle that isn’t licensed, it would be an immediate revocation of the licence,” Harrison said.
Councillor Barry Turpin confirmed with Harrison that if Rand doesn’t present the six-month safety inspection papers on March 1, 2019, the municipality could revoke the licenses on March 2 and, if he continued operation, Rand could be charged with operating taxis without the County’s blessing.
Harrison confirmed all of that was true.
In supporting the motion to reinstate, councillor Kevin Gale said that everyone makes mistakes but he hoped this was a drastic enough mistake to ensure nothing like this happens again.
“And we need the cabs in Picton, we need transportation,” Gale added.
Councillor Treat Hull relented and said he would vote reluctantly in favour of granting the licence as long as the conditions were met but quickly added that he came to the meeting expecting to vote in favour of immediate revocation in light of the pattern of Rand’s behaviour over the past decade.
The Picton councillor reminded those in the chamber Tuesday that Harrison couldn’t recall with clarity if the submitted altered safety certificates matched vehicle identification numbers for two vehicles in Rand’s fleet.
“I would remind council that deception intended to result in financial gain is fraud and that’s a Criminal Code act,” Hull said. “It was not demonstrated (by Harrison) those certificates were not part of an application and it could have been an accident but given the pattern behaviour of Mr. Rand, this a very generous solution.”