Drivers protest,but city says in-car video is coming

Despite protests by hundreds of irate taxi drivers yesterday, Mayor Larry O’Brien has vowed that security cameras will be installed in every city cab by July 2.



"This is a public safety issue," he said. "It is about providing the safest transportation option for the citizens of Ottawa and it has the added benefit of providing increased security for the drivers."



O’Brien suspects few operators would risk having licenses revoked for not complying with the bylaw. But drivers who converged yesterday at city hall after a "rolling" protest into downtown were adamant they would not install the cameras, citing privacy and financial concerns.

Yusef Al Mezel, president of Canadian Auto Workers Union Local 1688 that represents 1,500 drivers, said council has no adequate privacy policy around the cameras’ footage — drivers want only police to have access — and that the $1,300 cameras are too expensive.

"Our message is very clear. There will be no cameras without our consent," said Al Mezel.

Drivers say they were not consulted on what cameras would be installed and want to restart the tendering process. In 2005, the city approved a five-cent-per fare levy to help drivers cover the cost of the cameras.

CAW national representative Mohamad Alsadi said drivers would arrange protests again today.

"It is not our intention to pick a fight with the city, but if the city wants to pick a fight with us, we’re ready for them," he said.

But the city has signed a contract with a supplier and four months is time to resolve the privacy issues, said director of bylaw services Susan Jones.

Regarding privacy concerns, Jones said police would view most footage when necessary, but conceded bylaw officers would also occasionally have access.

Council will vote today on a recommendation to push the implementation date to July 2.

how they’ll work

  • The cameras would activate when a passenger is in the cab and they will record one picture per minute until the passenger exits. They will also record whenever there is a sudden stop or sharp turn, and footage will be saved for 15 days.