Uber began its services in Metro Vancouver this past weekend, but Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum isn’t happy about it.
A new report from Global News explains that McCallum said bylaw officers will be increasing enforcement against Uber drivers picking up passengers in the city, going against provincial regulations, Uber, and some members of his own council.
“We gave Uber a grace period over the weekend by issuing warning tickets for non-compliance,” he said. “I felt that was only fair to give them an opportunity to comply.”
On Monday, McCallum said 18 warnings had been issued to Uber drivers to date. “For those who continue to operate in Surrey, there will no longer be any warning tickets and any violators caught will be ticketed and face a fine of $500,” he said during a press conference.
McCallum said a business license is required. “Until that happens,” he said, “Uber is operating illegally in Surrey.”
The mayor’s statements come after Uber was issued a warning to stop operations by the city, though the company stated it had all the necessary licences. Over the weekend, an Uber driver was issued a ticket for operating without a business licence.
Uber’s head of Western Canada, Michael van Hemmen, said the company has all licenses to operate through Metro Vancouver, including Surrey.
“Uber and drivers have all the required approvals from the provincial government and the Passenger Transportation Board to operate in Metro Vancouver,” said van Hemmen. “We do not believe there is any legal basis for drivers to be fined by the City of Surrey.”
But because there aren’t specific bylaws for ride-sharing, it’s creating a legal grey area. A statement from the Ministry of Transportation says municipalities can set requirements for business licences for ride-hailing companies, but can’t stop their operations.
“Provincial law is clear, no municipality has the authority to block the operation of ride-hailing services,” it reads. “The absence of a bylaw or business licence in specific municipalities related to ride-hailing is not grounds for refusal of the service.”
Uber (and ride-sharing competitor Lyft) officially launched in Metro Vancouver last week and has become very popular since its introduction.