Uber ups pressure on B.C. government

Fassbender says province won't be stampeded in its 'careful' review of possible sharing economy reforms

Uber's ride-matching app doesn't yet work in B.C. but 225

Uber is intensifying its pressure on the B.C. government to plow past taxi industry objections and allow it to launch its ride-hailing service in B.C. cities.

The U.S. firm bought radio ads this week highlighting long waits for taxis in Metro Vancouver suburbs and released an open letter to the premier urging the province to “embrace the future and act on ride-sharing this spring.”

It comes after Communities Minister Peter Fassbender in January pledged careful consultations on the issue – particularly with taxi firms – before developing a made-in-B.C. solution that would preserve some role for traditional taxis.

Uber Canada general manager Ian Black said in the letter to Christy Clark that 100,000 B.C. residents and another 125,000 tourists opened the Uber app in B.C. last year to try to use the service.

He argued the ride-hailing industry would let thousands of people earn money on their own schedule driving their own cars, while reducing drunk driving through more reliable late-night transportation and expanding the reach of transit networks.

Uber also added a “future view” to its app for residents in Metro Vancouver, Victoria and Kelowna to project how quickly an Uber car could arrive and what fare it would charge if B.C.’s policy changed.

Fassbender says he won’t be stampeded.

“It is not changing our direction and position that we’re going to do it carefully and wisely,” he said in an interview.

Fassbender said the province’s main goal is to give consumers choice, while ensuring their safety through regulations and mandatory insurance.

“Our second objective is to make sure we respect the taxi industry and the investments they’ve made in their families and in their communities so whatever we do is as close to a level playing field as it can be.”

While Uber is the most urgent issue, Fassbender’s review is also to examine other “sharing economy” issues, such as the rise of unregulated vacation rental service Airbnb.

“Clearly there is increasing pressure as a result of some of the things that have been happening in communities like Vancouver that Airbnb is being talked about more, as well as its effect on the availability of housing and the cost of housing,” Fassbender said.

He is to meet with Metro Vancouver’s board to discuss the review Friday morning.

Uber halted service in Edmonton after the city council there passed restrictive bylaws, which allow only conventional taxis to be hailed from the street, not Uber drivers.

B.C. Taxi Association president Mohan Kang called Uber’s tactics a gimmick.

“I’m not surprised,” he said. “They should be making sure they can address the public safety issue, including having adequate insurance, having training, looking after people with disabilities and seniors.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Voters in Saanich North and the Islands, here lining up outside Sidney’s Mary Winspear Centre on the first day of advanced voting, are among the provincial leaders in getting in their votes early, with some 20 per cent (10,174) of eligible voters have already cast their ballots. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
It’s Election Day in B.C.: Here’s what you need to know to vote in Mission

B.C.’s snap election has already broken records for advance voter turnout, mail-in ballots

file
One dead after fiery crash near Agassiz

Agassiz RCMP report a 56-year-old man died Friday night

The possibility of the Canadian Premier League expanding to the Fraser Valley has been floated online. (Facebook photo)
Canadian Premier League possibly eyeing Fraser Valley expansion

Soccer league looking to add ninth team to the mix, B.C. markets potentially rumoured

Metro Creative Connection Photo.
Mission council decides to revert back to ‘lifetime’ fire-pit permits

District moving towards restriction, rather than prohibition, of backyard burns

The number of new COVID-19 cases in the Fraser South region has doubled in the last two weeks. The number of cases in the Fraser East region has tripled.
Chart: Tyler Olsen
COVID-19 surge in B.C. fuelled by spikes in new cases in Fraser Valley & Surrey area

Number of newly confirmed cases has tripled in Fraser Valley and doubled in the Surrey/Langley area

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry gives a daily briefing on COVID-19 cases at an almost empty B.C. Legislature press theatre in Victoria, B.C., on March 25, 2020. (Don Craig/B.C. government)
B.C. sees 223 new COVID-19 cases, now 2,009 active

Two new care home outbreaks in Surrey, Burnaby

BC Liberals Leader Andrew Wilkinson, BC Greens Sonia Furstenau, BC NDP John Horgan (The Canadian Press photos)
British Columbians vote in snap election called during COVID-19 pandemic

At dissolution, the NDP and Liberals were tied with 41 seats in the legislature, while the Greens held two seats

100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
B.C. driver thought he retrieved a dead bald eagle – until it came to life in his backseat

The driver believed the bird to be dead and not unconscious as it turned out to be

Chastity Davis-Alphonse took the time to vote on Oct. 21. B.C’s general Election Day is Saturday, Oct. 24. (Chastity Davis-Alphonse Facebook photo)
B.C. reconciliation advocate encourages Indigenous women to vote in provincial election

Through the power of voice and education Chastity Davis-Alphonse is hopeful for change

White Rock RCMP Staff Sgt. Kale Pauls has released a report on mental health and policing in the city. (File photos)
White Rock’s top cop wants to bill local health authority for lengthy mental-health calls

‘Suggestion’ included in nine-page review calling for ‘robust’ support for healthcare-led response

A Le Chateau retail store is shown in Montreal on Wednesday July 13, 2016. Le Chateau Inc. says it is seeking court protection from creditors under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act to allow it to liquidate its assets and wind down its operations.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Clothing retailer Le Chateau plans to close its doors, files for CCAA protection

Le Chateau said it intends to remain fully operational as it liquidates its 123 stores

The family of Anika Janz, who died after collapsing at school, has launched a GoFundMe to assist with funeral proceedings. (GoFundMe photo)
Family of student who died launches GoFundMe

Rick Hansen Secondary School student Anika Janz, 14, died after collapsing in PE class

Green party Leader Sonia Furstenau arrives to announce her party’s election platform in New Westminster, B.C., on October 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. Green party says it’s raised nearly $835,000 in 38 days

NDP Leader John Horgan is holding his final virtual campaign event

Most Read