Many of the old adages that are thrown around daily, continue to have relevance in much of our lives, every day. One of these such adages being; “in a progressive country…change is constant…change… is inevitable”. The quote from Benjamin Disraeli, a British statesman during the mid 1800’s, holds true some 150 years later, on many levels. Every aspect of our lives changes constantly, and this also holds true in the business world. Within this sector, those changes may be influenced by both internal and external forces. There is no escaping it.
Our district and communities are no different. In a world where technological advancements provide so many options, businesses, consumer habits and individual choices are undergoing changes daily. It is difficult to keep up and manage that change especially when regulations and laws do not keep pace with what is happening in the marketplace. There is a constant need for law makers, politicians and bureaucrats to be aware of the climate and make those changes necessary to meet societal demands.
On a local level, we have seen a lot of discussions in the past few months, regarding the taxi industry and the emergence of Rideshare/Uber type programs. The demand for this type of service has no doubt been fueled through the advancement of technology and the multitude of choices that consumers have and want. This is not isolated to this industry but at present, is at the forefront of many conversations taking place. From an industry perspective, they are not advocating to eliminate or not allow competition in the market, but rather ensuring that the playing field remains level.
The industry has been regulated by the North Bay Police Services Board by virtue of a bylaw passed in 1995, by North Bay City Council. This industry is one of the most regulated businesses that we have at a municipal level. Many of the regulations were enacted to ensure consumer protection and safety and for the most part have been effective. The bylaws, however, have been in place for almost 25 years and have not kept up with the times. The Police Services Board is reviewing the same, as consumer demand is asking for additional options when it comes to personal transportation.
The North Bay & District Chamber of Commerce recognizes that all businesses must adapt to consumer choice. We have seen this when it comes to retail shopping and those that manage the change, survive. In this regulated industry, two sets of rules for the same service should not be an option. It is incumbent upon the Police Services Board and ultimately City Council, to ensure that in the spirit of competition, the rules for all must be equal and that means deregulation If consumers want choice, then remove any barriers and ensure that the playing field is level for all.
Another old adage that comes to mind and is somewhat appropriate when discussing this subject “be careful of what one wishes for, lest it come true”!
Peter Chirico is the President & CEO of the North Bay & District Chamber of Commerce.