(Flickr image)

(Flickr image)

Surrey bylaws tactics with Uber drivers ‘entrapment’ and ‘completely wrong’

That’s what Councillors Brenda Locke and Linda Annis had to say Monday about city staff hailing Uber drivers then issuing them warnings

Surrey City Councillor Linda Annis dismisses as “completely wrong” the city bylaws enforcement department’s tactic of “luring” Uber drivers into Surrey only to hit them with a warning and the ride-hailing company with a $500 fine.

Councillor Brenda Locke echoed that.

“I think it’s an entrapment,” Locke said. “There are literally hundreds of businesses in Surrey that operate without a business licence.

“It seems pretty obviously directed at the mayor’s project, which I think is unfortunate,” she said. “Surrey is not an island in all this. We are part of Metro Vancouver, we should be working with all of the other communities, cities in Metro Vancouver to make sure there’s some kind of coordinated effort.”

“This is just pure silliness.”

Michael van Hemmen, in charge of Uber for Western Canada, says his company does not believe the City of Surrey has the authority to block it from doing business here.

“Premier Horgan has been clear that municipalities do not have the authority to prevent ridesharing companies from operating,” he stated. “Uber and drivers have all the required approvals from the provincial government and the Passenger Transportation Board to operate in Metro Vancouver. We do not believe there is any legal basis for drivers to be fined by the City of Surrey.”

Nevertheless, Annis said Monday that city staff told her three bylaws enforcement officers were directed to hail Uber drivers. “I know they were doing it over the weekend. I’m not sure whether or not they’re still doing it. What I do know is that the bylaw officers that were calling the ride-hailing services were issuing warnings only to the drivers but were fining Uber at $500 per trip into Surrey.”

It was not known at press time how many warnings or fines had been issued. Rob Costanzo, the city’s general manager, did not return requests for comment. Nor did Kim Marosevich, Surrey’s bylaws enforcement manager.

READ ALSO: Surrey tells Uber to cease operations in citym but company ‘respectfully’ declines

READ ALSO: Uber says it’s been serving North Surrey since 8 a.m. Friday

READ ALSO: Surrey mayor the lone vote against regional business licensing for ride hailing

Asked if she thinks this is city business, or political business, Annis replied, “I think this is political business.”

“I feel it’s a very bad use of bylaw officers’ time – they should be focusing in on enforcing public safety issues in our city, not calling Uber drivers to come out to the city only to issue them a warning for coming here,” she said.

“The direction to city staff I don’t feel was appropriate. I don’t think this is proper utilization of city staff or resources, to bring in drivers only to issue them a warning. I think that is completely inappropriate,” she said. “T0 me it is completely wrong.”

Annis said there is a process set in place to approve how Uber will be operating in this city and “we should be letting the proper process to take shape, not luring Uber drivers or other ride-hailing services into Surrey only to issue infraction notices.”

Mayor Doug McCallum has voiced vehement opposition to ride hailing in Surrey, claiming it’s unfair to local taxi drivers. City Hall issued a canned statement Friday, after the Now-Leader sought his response to the Passenger Transportation Board’s approval of ride hailing companies operating in Metro Vancouver. He said this development hasn’t changed his position on the issue.

“What continues to be my chief concern is the unfair advantage that has been created without any regard as to how it will impact those who are employed in the taxi industry,” McCallum stated in his press release. “It is no secret that a large percentage of cab drivers live in Surrey and the modest wages they earn go to support their families. As residents and as my constituents, it is my duty to do what I can to ensure that these jobs are not lost due to an unfair advantage that has been arbitrarily put in place.”

Meantime, there was uber confusion over the ride-hailing company operating in North Surrey on Friday, despite McCallum vowing to deny such ride-hailing companies business licences here. Matt MacInnis, vice president of corporate communications for Uber, told the Now-Leader that pick-ups and drop-offs were available in parts of Surrey as of 8 a.m. Friday.

On Friday night, the City of Surrey sent a letter to Uber to cease its operations by 9 p.m. but Uber declined.

McCallum argues that the taxi industry “meets the needs of all its passengers by having vehicles for hire that can accommodate people of all abilities.

“Until I am assured that a level playing field is established, I will not be supporting the issuing of ride hailing business licenses and, if there is a need, I will be asking for an increase in taxi licenses for operation in Surrey,” he said. “I look forward to hearing about how the region will work with the province to ensure there is fair competition in the marketplace between ride hailing companies and the taxi industry.”

MacInnis said that “when it comes to business licences, there is a inter-municipality business licence process that the mayor’s council is going through now, and Uber is participating in the process.”

A Lyft press release issued by public relations company Citizen Relations indicated on Friday that there “are currently three driver hubs located in Surrey, Richmond and the City of Vancouver.” But Laurie Fletcher, a senior account executive with Citizen Relations, said Lyft is not operating in Surrey yet; however, we will be continuing to expand the operating area.

“We do have a hub there (in Surrey),” she said, “but we aren’t operating it there yet.”

“I can’t comment on the exact time,” she added. “We don’t have an official time frame.”

MacInnis said Monday he was unaware of any fines being laid. “I’ve been advised that two drivers received warning notices but to my knowledge no driver has received a fine.”

Annis said that if this ride-hailing business was not dealt with at Monday night’s meeting, “certainly if it’s not coming up I will ask that this be dealt with at the next council meeting in terms of how we’re going to position ride-hailing for the city. It’s not been voted on by council yet, and it’s not been discussed by council, so I think that’s the very obvious next step for us to do.”

Surrey Board of Trade CEO Anita Huberman, who has been a vocal advocate of ride hailing in Surrey, said the board is pleased with Lyft and Uber being approved to operate in the Lower Mainland and Whistler.

“Surrey needs ridesharing,” she said. “Surrey needs more transit and transportation options. We hope all local government decision makers see the need for this in Surrey.”



tom.zytaruk@surreynowleader.com

Like us on Facebook Follow us on Instagram and follow Tom on Twitter

Just Posted

Brandon Hobbs (turquoise shirt), brother of missing Abbotsford man Adam Hobbs, gathers with other family and friends to distribute posters in Chilliwack on Thursday, June 17, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Search efforts expand to Chilliwack and beyond for missing Abbotsford man

Family, friends put up posters in Chilliwack, Agassiz, Hope for missing 22-year-old Adam Hobbs

poster
Drop-in Covid vaccine clinic in Mission June 17-18

Neighbourhood clinics complement appointment-based clinics currently operating in Mission

Stock photo by LEEROY Agency from Pixabay
Drop-in vaccination clinics slated in Abbotsford for construction workers

Among three sites in Lower Mainland holding no-appointment clinics in June and July

A CH-149 Cormorant from 442 Transport and Rescue Squadron out of CFB Comox on a training exercise in Chilliwack on June 16, 2021. (William Snow photo)
VIDEO: Military search and rescue training in Chilliwack Wednesday

CH-149 Cormorant and CC-115 Buffalo from CFB Comox participated in downed aircraft rescue simulation

(Black Press Media files)
Get ready for mosquito season

Fraser Valley Regionsl District has already taken measures to curb the number of mosquitos

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

Helen Austin performing with Trent Freeman at the 2018 Vancouver Island MusicFest. Austin is one of the many performers listed for the 2021 event.
Vancouver Island MusicFest goes virtual for 2021

Black Press to stream 25 hours of programming July 9-11

FILE – A science class at L.A. Matheson Secondary in Surrey, B.C. on March 12, 2021. (Lauren Collins/Surrey Now Leader)
Teachers’ union wants more COVID transmission data as B.C. prepares for back-to-school

BCTF says that details will be important as province works on plan for September

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry outlines B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan, May 25, 2021, including larger gatherings and a possible easing of mandatory masks on July 1. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. records 120 new COVID-19 cases, second vaccines accelerating

Lower Pfizer deliveries for early July, Moderna shipments up

A Heffley Creek peacock caught not one - but two - lifts on a logging truck this month. (Photo submitted)
Heffley Creek-area peacock hops logging trucks in search of love

Peacock hitched two lifts in the past month

The Calgary skyline is seen on Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
2 deaths from COVID-19 Delta variant in Alberta, 1 patient was fully immunized

Kerry Williamson with Alberta Health Services says the patients likely acquired the virus in the hospital

The first suspension bridge is the tallest in Canada, with a second suspension bridge just below it. The two are connected by a trail that’s just over 1 km. (Claire Palmer photo)
PHOTOS: The highest suspension bridges in Canada just opened in B.C.

The Skybridge in Golden allows visitors to take in views standing at 130 and 80 metres

BC Green Party leader and Cowichan Valley MLA Sonia Furstenau introduced a petition to the provincial legislature on Thursday calling for the end of old-growth logging in the province. (File photo)
BC Green leader Furstenau introduces old-growth logging petition

Party calls for the end of old-growth logging as protests in Fairy Creek continue

B.C. Premier John Horgan leaves his office for a news conference in the legislature rose garden, June 3, 2020. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. premier roasted for office budget, taxing COVID-19 benefits

Youth addiction law that triggered election hasn’t appeared

Most Read