Future of taxi businesses discussed at town council

Strathmore Town Council heard a delegation from Strathmore and Wheatland Taxis during the Nov. 1, regular meeting, which concerned any future broker licenses within the town.

Robert Seabrooke, representing Wheatland Taxi, and Ajaypal Singh, speaking on behalf of Strathmore Taxi presented before council.

“We are not against competition, it is good for everybody, but what we are saying right now is, the current population of Strathmore and the service levels we provide, we feel do not dictate another broker coming in,” said Seabrooke.

“We (would) just like to bring this up ahead of time, so we are asking council to consider, not so much a moratorium, but a case would need to be made for another broker to come in.”

In the request form to speak which was submitted to the town, Oct. 4, Seabrooke and Singh noted there would be detrimental effects to their businesses, as well as for the overall service to the town, should more companies open in the area.

Seabrooke added taxis are much more regulated than most other businesses in town, which he explained is cause for him to have more at stake to lose should his business experience unnecessary competition.

“Currently Wheatland Taxi operates five vehicles; at any given time, 60 per cent are being utilized. Strathmore Taxi has four (and) at any given time, 50 per cent are being utilized,” said Seabrooke. “Only on two occasions, extreme weather aside, do we find we do not have enough vehicles and that is Stampede weekend, and New Year’s Eve, but that goes anywhere.”

Under the town’s current bylaws, Strathmore and Wheatland Taxis operate 24 hours per day, seven days a week, as that is expected of them.

The argument is that should another business open its doors in town, there will not be enough regular demand split between each of the services for any of them to be sustainable.

Another concern Seabrooke brought up was regarding the amount of money Wheatland and Strathmore Taxis put back into the local community on an annual basis, and the desire to continue that, rather than to see another business take money elsewhere.

Currently, there are no ghost transport services, such as Uber, which operate within Strathmore.

Mayor Pat Fule posted a question asking if the town was legally able to limit the number of operating taxi businesses within the local region. Town CAO Kevin Scoble clarified if the town attempted to do so, they would be open to liability from somebody who did want to establish and would then be not permitted to do so.

Coun. Brent Wiley requested a business case from Strathmore and Wheatland Taxis in order for the town to further examine the discussion.

John Watson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times