License granted despite assault and weapons convictions
by Colin Duffy
At the October 29 meeting of the Toronto Licensing Tribunal, taxicab driver Sandeep Singh was granted a taxicab driver’s license, despite a conviction for aggravated assault in 2007. Three incidents from 2006 to 2007 appeared to be a concern to the Tribunal, including convictions for assault with a weapon and possession of a dangerous weapon, but those two convictions resulted only in peace bonds.
In a pre-hearing settlement, Singh and the City agreed that he will be subject to three years of probation. On the next three renewals, he must provide the City, at his own expense, an updated abstract of his criminal record and driving record. If he is charged or convicted under the Highway Traffic Act, Municipal Code, or Criminal Code during his probation, he must notify MLS in writing within three business days. If the City has any concerns with new charges or convictions, he can be brought before the Tribunal again.
Both City lawyer David Gourlay and Singh agreed that the convictions were dated, and that he appears to have moved on with his life. Singh is now married and has a two year-old child, and currently works as an auto mechanic.
The Tribunal chair for this hearing was Nicole Treksler, with Ali Alibhai and Lori Marzinatto also sitting.
Also on that hearing date, the Tribunal approved extensions to the time allowed for two estates to sell the taxicab plates of owners who passed away. The estates of Muhammed Afzal and Farzad Bakhtiar were granted nine-month extensions to the time they have to dispose of the plates. They can sell the plates, or if any member of the family obtains an owners’ license the plate can be transferred to them.
Nine-month extensions to the 12 months allowed by the bylaw have become routine in recent years. Tribunal member Ali Alibhai questioned City Lawyer David Gourlay about this practice, asking, “Tell me how you came to nine months.” Gourlay responded that the fact that the bylaw is in flux was a factor, but “This is not the appropriate forum to discuss changes in the bylaw”.
In recent years a combination of factors like the rise of so-called ridesharing operations like Uber and the increased number of licensed taxis in Toronto has resulted in a sharp drop in the price of a taxicab plate, and estates often postpone selling a plate as long as they can in the hopes of getting a better price. Roya Parizadeh, trustee for the Bakhtiar estate, commented that she hoped that the bylaws would stabilize in the next 9 months, saying “We need something for his children”.
Also resolved on this date, Taxicab plate owner Joe Youseph Rajab was brought before the Tribunal to have conditions on his former taxicab driver’s license transferred to his owner’s license. Rajab was convicted of criminal negligence causing death. He explained that the conviction was in connection with the death of his infant son, and he blamed the error on the doctor. He explained that he did not intend to drive, and that he “won’t pose a threat to the public.”
The conditions were not transferred when he switched from being a driver to having an owner’s license, but the bylaw requires the Tribunal to approve conditions on a license so correcting the error required a hearing.
Previous Tribunal members have commented on this process, with Leigh Lampert once asking, “Why can’t an administrative error be handled administratively?” In each such case, the answer from the City has been that the bylaw doesn’t allow for such an administrative mechanism to transfer conditions on licenses, and that they can only be imposed by a Tribunal order.