Mess Media

monitors, analyzes and corrects media reporting errors and bias concerning messengers and couriers.

Messenger Institute
 for Media Accuracy




Toronto Cannot License Couriers

When the province of Ontario announced it was granting Toronto new powers to tax and license, the first issue some councillors felt necessary to address was the licensing of bicycle couriers.  So even though the City of Toronto Act wasn't yet in effect the Works Committee decided to look into the possibility.

As expected the response from the Municipal Licensing and Standards Division was that the City does not have the power to license couriers but it could be re-visited once the City of Toronto Act comes in to effect.

Now that the Act is in effect, staff re-examined the feasibility of licensing bicycle couriers under the City of Toronto Act, 2006. According to the staff report dated March 7, 2007:

Under the City of Toronto Act, 2006, a municipality does not have the power to license a courier business, and/or owners or drivers of vehicles used for hire in a courier business, including bicycle couriers.

Let's hope that Councillors can accept defeat and finally stop wasting taxpayers' money on issues outside of its jurisdiction.

The City of Toronto has studied the licensing of couriers in abundance. Each and every time it has been dismissed as unnecessary, too costly or outside of the City's powers. It was studied at length in 1987, 1991 and 1997. It was raised again in 1999 but much to the disappointment of Councillor Lindsay-Lubin it went nowhere because Councillor Lubin was informed that the city didn’t have the power to license couriers.

In 1992 even the Chief of Police came out against licensing stating “from a policing perspective, licensing as a means to enhance enforcement is ineffectual.” The main problem with licensing is that it’s not licensing at all. It’s merely a form of labeling and the police are required to infringe on all cyclists rights to enforce the labeling system. Every cyclist who may look like a courier may be stopped by police and inspected to determine if they are a courier.

Idea of licensing bicycle couriers gets mixed reaction - Globe and Mail, September 2, 2006

Here are some of the reports on licensing but Toronto may be more spending tax dollars to create many more reports.

License or Label

Potential licensing of bicycle couriers in Toronto (1987) - Messville Report 

The TCCC's 1987 Report - This report is about registering couriers as well as licensing all cyclists.

Sunwheel Couriers Report (1989) -  A courier company's recomendations

The TCCC's 1991 Report - Includes the TCCC recommendations to amend the draft by-law. Recommends delaying licensing until more information available.

The Association of Professional Urban Cyclists' (A.P.U.C.) 1991 submissions on licensing - bike couriers' views on the matter.

The Lawful and the Awful (1991) - workshops on improving cyclists behavior and enforcement issues. No couriers involved in the workshops - so guess what they recomend, with no evidence.

Toronto's Draft Law from 1991 - This was never passed but any future law would probably start with this draft.

Societe de l'assurance automobile du Quebec Report (1992) - This is the summary of the report in English. It studied many cities and recognized the limitations of insufficient data.

The City of Ottawa's Report from 1992 - The City decided against licensing messengers

The Toronto City Cycling Committee's (TCCC) 1992 Report - This is a report on licensing all cyclists in Toronto and couriers. It comes out against licensing.

Metro Toronto Police Comments on Licensing Couriers (1992)

Toronto City Councillor Steve Ellis' 1997 Comments on those evil enemies of the people. He lost his seat in the very next election.




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