Surrey City Hall has been told to give a better explanation for denying a taxi permit.

Surrey denies chauffeur permit with little explanation

Court orders the city to provide better reasons for taking a taxi driver's permit.

  • Jun. 9, 2011 6:00 p.m.

Surrey failed to adequately explain why it denied a chauffeur’s permit two years ago, a court has found.

Mohinder Singh Johal drove taxi in Surrey from 1990 to 2008. During that time, was required to hold a valid chauffeur’s permit, which had to be renewed annually.

In February 2008, Johal applied for his licence and was refused.

The City of Surrey had created a Vehicle for Hire Bylaw, whereby drivers had to meet certain conditions.

In the five years prior to applying for a permit, the driver cannot have had more than five traffic violations, cannot be convicted of a criminal traffic offense, or cannot be convicted of a crime of violence or any weapons offenses.

In its initial refusal decision, Surrey responded that Johal was being declined because he’d been convicted of impaired driving, and at another time, of a lesser charge of assault.

Surrey believed that his permit had been approved inadvertently while he was “before the courts for impaired driving and while on probation serving a one-year peace bond.”

The city was wrong.

Johal had not been convicted of impaired driving, but rather had been found guilty of driving without due care and attention. He was also not convicted of a lesser charge, but had voluntarily been placed on a peace bond.

Court documents site police records which offer more detail beginning with an incident on Aug. 21, 2006.

“Surrey RCMP responded to a report of domestic assault where Mr. Johal had kicked his wife, punched her in the head and threatened to kill her with a knife,” court documents quote of the police records.

Then on Oct. 16, 2007, police detail a traffic matter.

“Mr. Johal was operating a taxi cab (without any fares on board) and struck an unoccupied parked vehicle in the 13300-block of 84 Avenue. Police attended and arrested Mr. Johal for impaired and refusing to provide a sample,” the court documents state.

The matter was pleaded down to driving without due care and attention.

The RCMP Chief Constable recommended that Johal’s application for a chauffeur’s permit “be declined as it is not in the public interest.”

After Johal’s appeal to Surrey council, the city responded with a one-sentence resolution saying “that council upholds the RCMP decision to deny a chauffeur’s permit to Mr. Mohinder Johal.”

Surrey’s lawyer argued that the city had the corrected information at appeal and made its decision on those facts.

Madam Justice Sandra Ballance was not swayed by that argument.

“It my view, that the factual inaccuracies founding the Initial Refusal Decision and those contained in the subsequent RCMP memorandum had been clarified at the appeal makes it more troubling – not less – that the result of the appeal was articulated simply as upholding the original decision, without further explanation,” Ballance wrote in her finding.

The consequences are that Johal had no idea as to why he lost his appeal.

Surrey has been ordered by the court to give Johal better reasons for its decision to deny his permit.

If Johal is not content with that decision, he can still proceed with a judicial review.

@diakiw

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