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Friday, March 4, 2011

Friday, March 4, 2011

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Photo Illustration by Nyssa Kuwahara
GAZETTE
the
gazette
FRIDAY, MARCH 4, 2011
CANADA’S ONLY DAILY STUDENT NEWSPAPER • FOUNDED 1906
VOLUME 104, ISSUE 79
WWW.WESTERNGAZETTE.CA • @UWOGAZETTE
Welcoming the new folks since 1906
TODAY 
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TOMORROW 
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 Want to be onRolling Stone?
One Saskatoon bandgot an unusual callfrom the music mag
>> pg.5
The Business of Bandits
They’re illegal, unlicensed and potentially dangerous. They’realso filling a gap left in London’s lucrative taxi industry. Banditcabs are on the rise in London and city officials are starting to crack down.
Lauren Pelley
takes a closer look at this illicit industry.
Bandits are roaming the streets of London. They’re lurking on Face-book, posting on Kijiji, advertisingon Craigslist. They’re handing outcards on Richmond Row. And theymight have driven you home onenight after the bar.London’s municipal governmentcalls them “bandit taxis” – illegalcabs unlicensed and unregulated bythe city.Last Friday, city officials laidcharges against an alleged bandit taxioperator in their ongoing fightagainst phony cabs. Bryan Leslie Lit-tleton, 28, is charged with advertisingand operating a cab without a licence.He now faces up to $730 in fines.Littleton is just one face of anunderground industry that posespotential dangers to passengers,says the city’s bylaw enforcementmanager, Orest Katolyk.“Should there be an accident, it’svery unlikely these vehicles are com-mercially insured,” he says. “So you’rebasically getting into a car where youhave no knowledge of the car [and]no knowledge of the driver.”Despite potential dangers, moreunlicensed taxis began hitting Lon-don’s streets about a year ago dur-ing the London Transit strike, in partthanks to the economic recession.But it’s a service that has long beena part of the local transit landscape –and even more so in tourism-centredcities like Ottawa and Niagara Falls.In late 2010, Niagara RegionalPolice completed a sting on anunderground cab company operat-ing in the area. Speedy DeliveryCourier owner Wayne R. Whitemanhad already been arrested in 2009and later pleaded guilty to breach-ing the city’s taxi licensing bylaws.Bradley Blaylock, a 17-year-oldNiagara Falls resident, has oftenused the popular – albeit under-ground – taxi service.“They do always ask you to sit inthe front with them and say, ‘Thisway it makes everything look nor-mal,’” he says, adding Speedy seems just as safe as taking an actual taxi.But Katolyk says it’s not as safe asit appears.The city has been tracking andordering bandit taxis as part of anongoing crackdown on these illegalservices.“The way we follow them isthrough various social media sites,”he says.City officials have encounteredabout a dozen since December 2009,Katolyk notes, but he says there areplenty more on the streets.In one instance, a car was fromthe early ‘90s – easily a dozen yearsolder than what the city permits as alicensed taxi, he says. Another bandittaxi was being operated by someone just released after a DUI conviction.But while city officials may befighting bandit taxis now, someargue the city actually fuelled thegrowth of this illicit industry.“The city’s own taxi regulationsare responsible for the bandit cabs,”says London resident Barry Wells,who used to operate an illegal taxi inthe ‘80s after being laid off from his job at a cab company.It all started with a city-mandat-ed freeze on the number of plates –those additional designations on theback of cabs that signify a taxilicence – back in the ‘70s, in order tocap the number of taxis on thestreets, Wells says.It’s basic business logic, heexplains — fewer taxis on the roadsmeans more business for the cabcompanies.But by limiting the number of taxiowner licences, plus allowing theplates to be transferred, the cost of plates on the so-called grey marketrun about $130,000, Wells adds.Basically, due to the population-based cap, there aren’t enoughlicences available to meet thedemand of those hoping to enter theindustry.Wells says this “archaic and feu-dalistic” system spawned the currentbandit cab industry.“There are only so many plateson the market, and there’s a demandfor these plates […] so people put avalue on [them],” Katolyk echoes.But you’re never going to get enoughtaxis in the market to bring thatdown to zero, he adds.Despite the steep licence cost intoday’s industry, Katolyk notes the yearly driver fee charged by the city
>> seeBANDIT pg.2
It was one of those situations whereyou’ve been wandering arounddowntown London for two hours try-ing to find a cab on a cold, busynight. A man in a van just pulled upnext to me and two other friends andasked if we were looking for a cab.We didn’t think twice about it.We were freezing and the girlswere walking around barefootbecause their heels were killing theirfeet so we just piled in. In hindsightwe probably should have been skep-tical of just hopping into a randomvehicle with a stranger — goesagainst everything my parents evertaught me — but when it’s -10degrees and you can’t feel your feet,push comes to shove.It was funny — we got to the des-tination and there was kind of an awk-ward silence. I asked, “So what do weowe you?” and he said sort of hesi-tantly, “…t-ten dollars?...” So it was tenbucks to take us from downtown Lon-don to near the university, which ismuch better than what you’d get withAboutown or U-Need-A, to be honest.
Associate EditorArden Zwelling tellshis story of taking abandit cab last year.
In our opinion,they’re directed atstudents from Westernand Fanshawe.
— Orest Katolyk 
Bylaw Enforcement Manager
 
 Aaron Zaltzman
GAZETTE NEWS
The Western Mustangs marchingband might soon be playing a differ-ent tune. The group is seeking otheravenues of funding after losingaccreditation from the UniversityStudents’ Council.The band, which has been a partof Western since 1938, lost its statuswhen a review by the USC’s StudentLife department found the insuranceplan couldn’t cover accreditedgroups.With this change, the band willno longer be entitled to direct fund-ing from the USC. Initially, this leftthe organization with two optionsfor funding: becoming a club or get-ting USC’s approval to become a stu-dent service.Neither option is a perfect sce-nario for the group, according tomarching band president MelanieBechard.Becoming a club would allow theband to continue operatingautonomously, but it comes at a price.“No club is guaranteed fundingevery year, and it does make our cur-rent members somewhat uncom-fortable to think that we mightreceive no funding or insufficientfunding in future years,” Bechardsaid.“Furthermore, all clubs must betreated equally, and we have a fewquirks that might create future prob-lems,” she continued, citing Orien-tation Week performances as anexample.However, becoming a USC ser-vice is not without its problems.While it would guarantee fundingfor the group, it would also put theband at the behest of the USC,according to the chair of StudentEvents Committee Brandon Sousa.“If the marching band were a ser-vice,” said Sousa, “and they wantedto perform at a Western Mustangsgame, but the USC wanted them toperform at USC-related event at thesame time, they would be obligatedto perform at the USC-event overthe football game.”If the band decides to go the stu-dent service route, it still must getapproval from the USC, which couldprove difficult.“Some students might feel asthough it would be inappropriate,”Bechard said. “Because we obvious-ly do not exist for the same reasonsas many of the existing services,such as PrideWestern or Ally West-ern.” She hopes the marching bandcould be accepted instead for thepurpose of increasing school spirit.Bechard said for now the bandwill seek ratification as a club, as it’stoo late in the year for the band toapproach the Student Events Stand-ing Committee and become a ser-vice. However, she does leave it inthe hands of future executives todecide whether the student serviceoption is the better one.Sousa hopes that other accreditedgroups will not be forced to make adecision either way. He explained thatthe USC could create a new policy foraccredited groups and have groupsapply on a case-by-case basis.“I believe with further explo-ration of this matter, a more benefi-cial resolution for both groups canbe reached.”
2
the
gazette
Friday, March 4, 2011
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 Solution to puzzle on page 8
POS TGRADUA TECER TIFICA TES
 
business.humber.ca
Financial Planning Global Business ManagemenHuman Resources Management International Development International Marketing Marketing Management Public Administration
The Cryptoquip is a substitution cipher in which one letter stands for another. If you think that X equalsO, it will equal O throughout the puzzle. Single letters, short words and words using an apostrophe giveyou clues to locating vowels. Solution is by trial and error.© 2002 by Kings Features Syndicate, Inc.
Band searches for funding
Becoming a club or service still an option
London
> Bandit Cabs
Bandit cabstarget UWO,Fanshawestudents
is just $75.And regardless of the complica-tions within the taxi business, themain point the city wants to drivehome is the aspect of personal safe-ty – for both passengers and drivers.In terms of passenger safety,Katolyk says legitimate taxi driversfrom companies such as Aboutown,U-Need-A and Yellow London Taxiundergo police record checks andvehicle inspections on a yearly basisto ensure both driver and car are fitto be on the road.Drivers must also pass English,geography and bylaw exams, hesays, and submit a medical recordwhen requested.“They’re inspected randomly allthe time,” he adds.All licensed London cabs alsohave interior cameras for both pas-senger and driver safety.“It was actually the drivers thatrequested this safety device several years ago,” Katolyk says, adding theyare often carrying substantialamounts of cash.“The bandit drivers could be atarget […] There are no cameras inthere to protect them.”Students should be wary of ille-gal taxis, Katolyk notes, since theyare likely a target market of thisunderground industry.“[Something] we’re noticing in theentertainment district is bandits thatare handing out cards,” he says. “Inour opinion, they’re directed at stu-dents from Western and Fanshawe.”
>> continued from pg.1
 
the
gazette
Friday, March 4, 2011
Buying contraband cigarettes costs more than you think. It fuels other criminal activities, such as the trafficking of drugs andguns. Individuals caught in possession of contraband cigarettes face serious consequences ranging from a fine to jail time.
contraband
consequences
.gc.ca
L’achat de cigarettes de contrebande coûte plus cher qu’on le pense : il alimente d’autres activités criminelles commele trafic d’armes et de drogues. Les individus pris en possession de cigarettes de contrebande s’exposent à de gravesconséquences, allant de l’amende jusqu’à l’emprisonnement.
consequences
de
la
contrebande
.gc.ca

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