To be fair, I’ve attended few of the town council meetings during these last twenty-two years of my residency in Fox Creek largely because it has been my personal experience that town council rarely seems to care about what the “little guy” thinks or, how many of the decisions made by council impact the livelihood of others in opposition.
Oh sure, he or she can have his or her say at these town council meetings but after the objections and concerns have been expressed it’s business as usual. Obviously town council will vote as planned regardless of other public concerns. That was, and still is, my view. Precious little has happened in these two decades to influence me to consider changing it and this town council meeting regarding the proposed taxi bylaw was no exception to my experience.
Despite past experience I attended the meeting against my better judgment, addressing this proposed taxicab bylaw at the behest of Mr. Roy Harold. Knowing Roy to be a long term resident if not a pioneer of Fox Creek, his heritage and background certainly answering fully to that description, I felt somewhat that it was my civic duty to express my views concerning the new bylaw however pointless my contribution would or, less likely, not be.
The two main issues that were addressed at the meeting regarding this proposed bylaw were: 1. Criminal background checks for the business owners of all or any taxicab companies operating in or about the vicinity of Fox Creek, Alberta. 2. Safety inspections of all vehicles used in providing public taxi service operating in or about the vicinity of Fox Creek, Alberta. Now this certainly sounds reasonable on the surface until one gets their hands on a copy of the actual proposed bylaw and reads the entire proposal thoroughly. There is so much more to it than what was initially stated at the meeting.
I did not read a copy of this proposed bylaw before the meeting as none was offered to me. I managed to procure a copy some time after the meeting was over. Upon typing this communication I do not know what was decided at town council or even if the matter was put to a vote. Frankly I wonder if it even matters. What I find most infuriating is the lengths to which town council would seem to go to inadvertently shoot itself in the foot and to stunt the town’s economic growth.
To assume that just because this is an oil town (oil being the life blood of the industry) that our town doesn’t need a backbone is nothing short of hubris. Once upon a time our town boasted barbershop, a dentistry, an internet cafe, and a myriad of other successful small businesses that thrived and served our community well. Where are they now? I suggest these were over-taxed and micro-managed out of existence and I am discouraged at the apparent sabotage conducted by the council to its tax payers and long term residents.
Election after election town council seems to consistently engage in the suppression if not outright destruction of our already struggling small business community. When will it stop? How can any of this sort of petty micro-management be of any encouragement to entrepreneurship or to any potential developers who would otherwise endeavor to establish any new and thriving enterprise in our town? Isn’t it bad enough Provincial government already refuses to seriously address our town’s needs? One cannot help but to wonder what sort of ‘backroom deals’ might be occurring that the rest of our residents are not privy to. Anyone’s guess is as good as mine.
All that aside, my line of reasoning was that if Criminal Background checks were to be conducted on all taxicab owners in Fox Creek then it would only be fair and equitable that Criminal Background checks be done on not just some, but all business owners in the Public Service sector. For some reason this did not strike town council as a prudent choice.
No, they want to zero in on taxicab companies only and leave it at that. A certain word comes to mind here… Yes! The word is hypocrisy. I repeatedly expressed to town council that it struck me as somewhat discriminatory to implement such a bylaw and that I felt that this was a premature move; but I am obligated to say it did not take me long to discern that the matter had already been decided and despite what myself or anyone else may have thought it was evident that we would inevitably all be speaking to the wind.
I should state here that there were a considerable number of concerned citizens at this meeting who did not seem to have much confidence in this proposed bylaw. I suspect that we were all ignored and that all we really got from town council was lip service. There is so much more I could state here but I’m not writing a book because I would like to see these words published. I would encourage the reader to get his or her hands on a copy of the bylaw because odds are, if you are a small business owner, contractor, sub-contractor, entrepreneur, etc. you will likely be next on the agenda.
This move strikes me as a “one bite at a time” measure craftily designed to penalize anyone who would contribute to the small business sector in the way of public service. But please don’t take my word for it — get a copy of the bylaw and read it because later on down the road it could easily affect you as much as any other small business owner. As it is currently written, the fines for failing to comply with this bylaw are indeed quite hefty and the number of times taxicab owners are expected to comply with those terms in a given year, above and beyond that which is already expected of them by Provincial Law, is rather ambiguous.
Any taxicab company consenting to this bylaw as it is currently worded would put itself in a very compromising situation to say the least. I can hardly blame Mr. Harold who having served our community for 26 years in his profession refusing to consent to this obvious exploit. I also find it no great wonder that many of the other issues stipulated in this proposed bylaw were not addressed publicly and I submit that it is unfair to suggest that they were.
Rather two main issues were liberally introduced to the discussion and these served rather well as a distraction from the others. Most of these laws are already in effect provincially so why then are they being over-duplicated as a bylaw? Is it for a playground of opportunists?
One wonders if town council doesn’t fancy themselves to be the bona fide Provincial Government of Alberta judging by this over-duplication of the law at the expense of the community. Furthermore, contrary to what some might believe, the economic backbone of our precious community is not big business. In truth, the economic backbone of our community is indeed the contractors, sub-contractors, public services, and various entrepreneurs who actually make big business possible.
Although a taxicab company may not be viewed by some as an “essential service” in our town I am not completely of the persuasion that this is always the case. I would heartily suggest that sometimes an ambulance cannot be there when you need one and often times a taxi will suffice when nothing else will. I know for a fact that Mr. Harold has indeed saved many lives in his profession and I think this too should be taken into consideration. Indubitably I will be made to pay for expressing my view as I have been made to pay for such things in sundry times.
This has not been the first time that I have taken a stance for small business in our town and it very likely won’t be the last. After reading this here new bylaw I can only call it what it is: A proverbial kick in the teeth. Remember that you could be next. Thank you for reading this missive.
Editors Note: To read the taxi bylaw click here:
- Bylaw 761-2016 Taxi Bylaw as published on March 1, in February Town Council Highlights.