Ride-share app Uber remains a divided issue in Edmonton, as city councillors determine new regulations for the company to operate legally in the city.
At a public hearing yesterday, hundreds of taxi drivers and Uber supporters filled city chambers to max capacity, with over 240 applicants registered to speak their mind just before 1PM in the afternoon, reports CBC News.
Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson said if Uber is able to secure proper insurance, the city may consider allowing the company to continue operating in the city, saying “I cannot in good conscience sanction a business activity that has that kind of public safety risk.”
As the hearing went on, taxi drivers protested outside at Churchill Square, shouting “shame, shame, shame” and calling for the mayor to resign, while Uber supporters were also out to support the ride-share app as well.
Drivers such as Husni Al Khatib asked councillors to think of cabbies and their families, saying lives are at stake, noting “We are human beings,” and that “Uber doesn’t care. It’s a faceless technology.”
New rules proposed would require Uber drivers to buy a city license to operate and have proper insurance. Both taxi drivers and Uber oppose the rules, with the former saying it imposes higher costs on them, while the latter says the bylaw would burden drivers with higher costs to operate.
Uber executives expressed concern with the bylaw, saying if approved it would be forced to leave or existing service would suffer. The company says Edmonton should regulate the business itself, instead of drivers, citing how 65 cities in the U.S. have similar regulations. Uber told the city it is working with Intact Insurance on a specific policy for ride-share drivers.
Monday saw a group of of taxi companies, including: Greater Edmonton Taxi Services, Alberta Co-Op Taxi Lines and 24-7 Taxi Line, file a lawsuit against Uber, claiming it has violated numerous city bylaws, the Traffic Safety Act and is guilty of price-fixing, in violation of the federal Competition Act.