BC Premier John Horgan accused Surrey’s mayor on Wednesday of putting up unnecessary roadblocks in his city as ride-hailing in Metro Vancouver gets off to a contentious start.
According to a new report from Global News, Horgan says competition brings challenges but the government developed safeguards to ensure a level playing field for taxi firms and companies like Uber and Lyft.
He says Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum should listen to the wishes of local residents who want free-market competition for transportation services and made one thing clear: municipalities cannot block companies from operating.
“I think the way forward for Surrey and for Mr. McCallum is to listen to the citizens of his community who want to compete,” Horgan said. “Not to destabilize and put people out of business but to provide a range of options for the travelling public.”
McCallum said that Surrey bylaw officers will be issuing $500 CAD tickets to ride-hailing drivers picking up customers in the city. Uber, on the other hand, filed for an injunction with the Supreme Court of British Columbia on Tuesday to stop the City of Surrey from issuing what the company calls “illegal tickets.”
“The city’s actions are unfair to local residents who want to earn money and support their families,” Uber’s head of western Canada Michael van Hemmen said. “It is also unfair to those who need a safe, affordable and reliable ride.”
“Our preference is to work collaboratively with municipalities, and we are doing so across the region,” van Hemmen continued. “However, Uber must stand up when drivers and riders are being bullied and intimidated, especially when the province has confirmed drivers have the legal right to use Uber’s app, and to earn money driving with the app.”
Uber claims that the Surrey government doesn’t have the authority to stop ride-sharing companies from operating in the community.
“Uber is hopeful that the city will immediately cease issuing illegal fines, and allow drivers to continue to provide safe, affordable, reliable rides to riders in Surrey without harassment, as the region collaboratively works on inter-municipal business licencing,” van Hemmen said.
The BC provincial government last year introduced legislation allowing companies like Uber and Lyft to operate, and the two companies have been operating in Vancouver since last Friday.
“You want to make sure you are protecting the existing industry but not protecting it from competition,” Horgan said.
“This is a free market economy, people understand that. I understand the mayor of Surrey opposes that view. We believe the Passenger Transportation Board has done a very good job of balancing all of the interest of the travelling public as well as the existing industry.”