Toronto Operators Request Temporary Licenses for Extra Cars

Posted on October 15, 2008 by LCT Staff - Also by this author - About the author

TORONTO – There are not enough limousines or luxury SUVs in the city to keep up with the demand from the movie stars and executives who attend the annual Toronto International Film Festival, the livery industry says.

Now limousine firms want the city - which regulates limos and taxis - to let them apply for temporary limo licenses, allowing them to rent extra cars for big events like September's annual film festival.

This past year, a festival sponsor brought in a fleet of luxury SUVs to ferry stars around, upsetting some in the industry. Some firms depend on it for a quarter of their annual business, said Craig McCutcheon of Mississauga-based Rosedale Livery, who is president of the Ontario Limousine Owners Association.

"We share the business amongst all the other companies. But there's still not enough vehicles. So, it's a problem," Mr. McCutcheon said, adding that other cities commonly grant temporary limo licenses. Today, the city's licensing and standards committee is to discuss a motion from Councillor Karen Stintz (Ward 16, Eglinton-Lawrence) that would ask city bureaucrats to look into the idea.

But committee chairman Howard Moscoe (Ward 15, Eglinton-Lawrence) accuses Ms. Stintz of being "captive to the limo lobby," and says the city, with 660 licensed limousines, already has too many. He says granting special temporary licenses to limousine firms would simply undercut the city's taxi drivers.

For the film festival last month, General Motors' Cadillac brand provided a fleet of 30 Escalade SUVs - 20 imported from the United States, including 12 hybrids - for the event's stars.

Film festival spokeswoman Naoko Kumagai said organizers weren't concerned about a lack of limousines, but offered the SUVs as a "complimentary service" for the event's high-profile guests.

The move was unpopular in the limo and taxi industries. "All us limo companies were going, hey, why don't we get to play?" Mr. McCutcheon said, adding that some Toronto limo firms saw orders cancelled by customers who used the complimentary Cadillacs.

Louis Seta of the Toronto Taxicab Industry Association has accused the festival of operating an unlicensed limousine service. But Mr. Moscoe said that, since no one paid to ride in the Cadillacs, they were not illegal under city rules.

Mr. Seta also opposes issuing limo firms special-event licenses. He said the stars should take taxicabs - a category that includes Lincoln Town Cars that serve primarily corporate clients - if they can't get a limo: "I don't mean to sound rude, but these people's asses aren't good enough to sit in those vehicles?"

Source: The Globe and Mail

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