Metro Vancouver mayors have voted to fast-track a regional business licence for ride-hailing in the new year.
Only one member of the regional mayors’ council on transportation, Surrey’s Doug McCallum, voted against the motion on Thursday at a meeting at TransLink’s headquarters in New Westminster.
Ride-hailing is anticipated to hit the Lower Mainland as early as the end of the month, according to the B.C. government, and eventually function in a zone model across the province, with each city responsible for its own licensing model.
Twenty-one municipalities in Metro Vancouver, as well as those in the Fraser Valley and on the Sunshine Coast make up Zone 1.
But ride-hailing advocates have said that requiring a licence in each community will deter drivers from offering equal levels of service, and that higher costs will be passed on to passengers. Councillors in Burnaby approved a $510 fee, and their Vancouver counterparts, a fee of $100.
“This is a natural extension to the existing mobile business licence structure to allow companies or people that do business in other municipalities so they don’t have to take a licence out in each one,” Coquitlam Mayor Richard Stewart said at the meeting.
Officials in Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam and Port Moody have agreed to an inter-municipal business licence.
“I’d love to see the region do this with lots of other mobile businesses,” Stewart said.
In his dissent, McCallum said a large majority of people in Surrey don’t want ride-hailing because “it is not a level playing field between ride-hailing and taxis,” and pointed to caps on the number of taxi vehicles allowed.
TransLink now has until Jan. 31 to create and implement an interim regional licence by Jan. 31, and a full set of rules by the end of 2020. If the deadline is not met, the provincial government will step in.
“Citizens, I think, are in vast support of ride-hailing, particularly for my community in Pitt Meadows,” Mayor Bill Dingwall said.
“We don’t have a lot of other options, including taxis, and so this provides those options.”