London woman fined for driving patients to hospital apologizes
Ethel Tari writes a letter of apology.
Published Thursday, March 15, 2018 2:07PM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, March 15, 2018 4:04PM EDT
A London woman who was fined by the city for driving patients to and from their appointments has written a letter of apology.
She also retracted and withdrew all comments and false statements she made that were critical of the city’s bylaw enforcement officer, Orest Katolyk his family, bylaw enforcement staff, the mayor and city council.
“I wish to express my sincere apology to each and every one of them and regret any embarrassment or unfair criticism caused by the manner in which I reported this story,” she wrote in a statement.
The city was bashed for fining the woman $2,260 but what wasn’t known originally was that she had been warned by the city and that she was using her vehicle to charge people for driving them elsewhere in the city.
Her complete letter is below.
Letter of Apology and Notice of Retraction
On February 27, 2018, I reported that I had received fines that I had contravened the Vehicle for
The bylaw prohibits unauthorized individuals from receiving payment for transportation provided within the City of London.
Jonathon Sher, a reporter with the London Free Press, contacted me and I provided him with an inaccurate account of what actually occurred, in that I did not tell him I had previously been warned by the City.
As a result of receiving this information that was incomplete and misleading, he caused to be published a story both in print and online that left the distinct impression that I was an innocent victim of an organized "sting" perpetrated by the bylaw enforcement department without justification. The article was written based upon information that I had provided. I agreed to speak to Mr. Sher because I was hoping that between his reporting and the paralegal I had hired the City might reduce my fine.
Stories related to my report were publicized from February 28 to March 5, 2018. As a result of the initial published report in the London Free Press, media outlets, both print and electronic, locally, provincially, nationally and internationally, picked up the story and repeated the inaccurate and misleading account I had initially reported. It has been reported that there have been 40,000 hits on Facebook alone. I also appeared on the Andy Oudman Show on Newstalk 1290 CJBK radio, during which I learned that the story had become the subject of national and international attention.
In response to the reporter's questions, I did disclosed my own medical history. There was an overwhelming response by the public that was extremely critical of the Bylaw Enforcement Department and in particular, the chief of that department, Orest Katolyk. Mr. Katolyk, and those members of his department who had been involved with me, were unfairly targeted. I attempted to paint myself as an innocent victim of overzealous enforcement of a municipal bylaw.
I had advertised my services as a general transportation service for a fee and had business cards printed and distributed promoting a general transportation service anywhere in London.
At the time I was charged, I had discontinued these rides but I gave the bylaw enforcement officer my business card, which advertised a general transportation service.
I am aware that the bylaw enforcement department receives complaints, which it is obliged to investigate.
I am aware that the bylaw enforcement department received complaints with regard to the service I have been providing.
In September 2017, after providing a ride from a mall to an office building to undercover bylaw enforcement officers, I was warned by those officers that the service I was providing contravened the bylaw. The officers directed me to contact the Business Services office of the Development and Compliance department of the City of London for information on how I could continue to operate legally.
I contacted City Hall and city staff in the Business Services office discussed with me options that would allow me to continue to provide my services lawfully. City staff did everything they could to assist me. During my conversation with city staff, I was told that if I accepted money in exchange for driving a person from "point K to "point B" I would be in violation of the bylaw. I explained that I did not charge a fee to the elderly for my transportation services to medical appointments or other rides. I understood and city staff confirmed in an email that I could continue to work in this manner assisting the elderly. Specifically, the email to another city staff and me stated:
"We had a conversation regarding her type of business and whether she would require a licence. From our discussion there are options within her business that would put her in the Vehicle for Hire Bylaw, however there are other options that she did not require the licence.
After discussing the costs of the licence, she has opted to discontinue the portion of her business that would require her to have the licence. She is going to continue being an aid for the elderly with appointments etc., as the costs associated with obtaining a licence to continue her "taxi style" business are not feasible with the amount that she charges."
Notwithstanding this, I continued to charge a nominal fee for this service. I continued to advertise with my business card that I was available to provide services for a fee to customers other than hospital patients who wanted transportation anywhere within the City of London.
In February 2018, I provided a ride to the hospital to an undercover bylaw enforcement officer.
During the ride, I disclosed that I was continuing to provide my services anywhere in London by providing him with my business card. I was then charged with a bylaw violation. As I should have expected, my story exposed Mr. Katolyk and the City to widespread public criticism because I misled the reporter in the first instance by not telling him about the warning I had received.
I now acknowledge that what I told the reporter was incomplete and misleading.
I completely and unequivocally retract and withdraw all comments and false statements I made,as a result of which the media and others made public comments that were critical of Mr. Katolyk, his family, bylaw enforcement staff, the Mayor and City Council. I wish to express my sincere apology to each and every one of them and regret any embarrassment or unfair criticism caused by the manner in which I reported this story.
City staff continue to assist me by advising me how to legally provide my services, which I hope to be able to continue.