Mississauga Council Calls Uber “Invaders” as “Wild West” Continues on Streets

Mississauga continues to try to regulate Uber in the city, with a key proposal being reversed by city council, just two weeks after it was established.

The city had decided it was ready to have a pilot program for companies like Uber to operate in the city, but wanted Uber to put operations on hold until the program was launched. Uber ignored the request and kept on operating, leading to city council to cave yesterday, reports the The Star.

Councillor Pat Saito, reversed her stance and led a new motion to eliminate the requirement for Uber to shut down before the ridesharing pilot could begin, saying “I’ve changed. Yes I have,” adding she wanted the pilot to “move forward”.

“Things are changing on a daily basis. I wanted to get as much support on council for the pilot (as possible), and if that meant massaging the motion and making amendments that other councillors could support it if those changes were made, then I’m prepared to do it.”

Since Uber continues to operate illegally, the city noted Uber drivers saw 50 charges laid last week, with fines ranging as high as $25,000 for drivers and $50,000 for Uber.

Staff say Uber is battling charges in court, deploying Charter challenges described as complex and challenging to argue against.

Councillors explained during a public debate yesterday scenes of a “wild-west” showdown on the streets of the city, as Uber drivers try to avoid bylaw officers, which recently increased enforcement staff from 9 to 11.

Councillor Jim Tovey called out Uber as “robber barons”, while councillor Ron Starr said enforcing illegal drivers was like chasing “a group of bandits,” noting the ridesharing company had instructed drivers to keep operating, despite council’s directive to shut down ahead of the pilot program.

Mayor Bonnie Crombie suggested a cap of 50 drivers for the test pilot, a number representing the current number of taxi plates in operation. But Uber says that number is too small, compared to the 5,000 drivers operating in Mississauga right now.

“There was a determination by the majority, by the will of council, that the industry be modernized and that a test pilot be put into place to really test drive this new technology,” Crombie said during the break. “The reality is that it exists, and I think we need to be able to regulate it, to control it.”

Councillor George Carlson said during the public debate Uber has interest ever in co-operating, saying “We’re not dealing with equals,” but rather “We’re dealing with invaders.”

Four councillors refused to support the motion, calling it “Groundhog Day” as Uber yet again gets a lifeline in the city to operate. Rules for the pilot are set to be announced at the end of next month. Council says if Uber does not agree with them, the plan will be axed.