On 21 February, the Town of Cobourg revoked the taxi licence for A1 Taxi because of undisclosed infractions against the Taxi bylaw No.014-2014. But the owner, Verander Gill, filed an appeal which was heard on Monday afternoon by the full council. The appeal was chaired by Aaron Burchat in his role as Protection Services Coordinator but most of the meeting was conducted by Town Clerk Brent Larmer. Although the appeal was not in a courtroom and there were no lawyers present, Brent used his legal knowledge (he’s a qualified para-legal) to present the documented evidence. He started by quoting laws that gave the Town authority to govern Taxis and continued with documented evidence from Police and Bylaw officer reports showing multiple specific infractions.
Background info on Verander Gill
During his appeal he mentioned that he also owned taxi services in Winnipeg and Toronto and he’s never had this kind of problem before. Some Internet research uncovered that in 2012 he owned Dignity Taxi (accessible) in Winnipeg and In Toronto he owned Able Atlantic Taxi and Bee Line Taxi. Bee Line appears to have since merged with Able Atlantic. He also mentioned that he now owns the 401 Motel in Cobourg which he gives as his home address. A1 Taxi operates from 125 Densmore road.
At the start of proceedings, Brent handed large binders of supporting documents to each Councillor and Mr. Gill. These contained confidential details and were not made public.
The concern started about a year ago with warnings and a suspension but A1 Taxi did not resolve the concerns. These included multiple instances of unlicensed drivers and unlicensed taxis. There were also multiple complaints from the public although these were not accompanied by hard evidence so were not part of the proceedings.
The licence of A1 Taxi was suspended on 4 December 2019 but the company continued to operate – illegally. One major incident happened on the 401 in a snow storm where an A1 Taxi on its way to Warkworth Penitentiary was involved in an accident and Brighton OPP was called. Officer Kelly Mason was there and in person reported to the hearing from her notes. She said that the taxi driver – William Jarvis – was not licensed as a cab driver, the taxi was unlicensed since A1 was under suspension and there was no proof of ownership or insurance in the car (although proof of insurance was subsequently provided).
When asked to present his case, Mr. Gill talked about the need to work with the Town and how the Town badly needed cabs. He provided no hard evidence in support of his appeal but instead accused the Town of conducting a witch hunt.
He said that most if not all the cases he was accused of involved cabs that were picking up in Cobourg and taking customers to out of Town addresses. He said that he understood that in those cases, a cab did not need a Town of Cobourg Licence (he later called this a grey area). In fact he has it the wrong way around: a Cobourg licence is needed for any pickup in Cobourg but not needed for out of Town pickup and delivery to Cobourg. At this point, Councillor Brian Darling asked him if he had a copy of the by-law; he said he does but his copy was not on his person. Brian then asked Brent to read out the part of the bylaw that stated pickups in Cobourg needed a Cobourg Licence. As Brent pointed out, companies that pickup in both Cobourg and Port Hope (like Ganaraska Taxi) have licences in both towns.
Mr. Gill said that he let two drivers go in December and that’s when the trouble started. He repeated that he felt very strongly that he has been subjected to a witch-hunt by Mr. Larmer. Also, “the Town needs more taxis and should work with small companies.”
He feels he has been victimized and that other companies have also used unlicensed cabs for trips out of town. He conceded that there may have been one or two violations but that should not mean shutting down the whole company.
The Council went into closed session to consider their action. When they returned, the decision was put in a motion that “based on the evidence… the application has been denied”. The vote to approve that motion was unanimous. That is, the appeal was denied.
As a result, A1 Taxi is currently not licensed to operate in Cobourg so for now at least, they are no longer in business in Cobourg.