September 10, 2015 9:20 am
Updated: September 10, 2015 6:30 pm

Edmonton cabbies fighting Uber legalization

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WATCH ABOVE: Edmonton’s taxi industry is trying to stop a proposed bylaw that could see ride sharing services like Uber legalized. Jessica Kent explains how they plan to do that.

EDMONTON — The local taxi industry is trying to put a stop to a proposed bylaw change that would accommodate rideshare companies like Uber in Edmonton.

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Last week the city announced the draft bylaw, which would require Uber drivers to have proper insurance, a city license, undergo a criminal record check and a yearly vehicle inspection. Essentially, the bylaw would turn Uber drivers into taxi drivers.

READ MORE: Proposed bylaw would allow Uber to operate legally in Edmonton

Balraj Manhas, president of the United Cabbies Association of Edmonton, said the bylaw threatens their livelihood.

“There will be a flooding of taxis in the city, this market will be open for everybody, and there will be no fulltime jobs,” he said outside the meeting Wednesday night.

Manhas said the city didn’t take any input from the industry when it drafted the bylaw, and wants that corrected.

It was standing room-only on Wednesday night, when around 800 people from the taxi industry met at a banquet hall in southeast Edmonton to discuss the issue. Manhas said they agreed that if the city wants a fight — it’s got one.

The association has hired a lobby group called Alberta Counsel Ltd. Lawyer Shayne Saskiw, former Wildrose MLA turned lobbyist, is helping the taxi drivers make their case.

“The main concern here is there seems to be two sets of rules,” said Saskiw, who wants to see all laws enforced regularly.

“(The taxi drivers) want to ensure that there’s a fair playing field. That if you’re going to be involved in commercial driving, there should be rules for everybody and everyone abides by the same rules.”

Uber released a statement, saying in part:

“Given that various groups have expressed concern, we suggest that more time is needed for city staff to review the proposal. While taxi drivers are protesting, UberX drivers will stay on the road serving Edmontonians.”

READ MORE: Uber stands ground in ongoing scrap with taxis, governments in Canada

The taxi drivers are not afraid to take action, even if that means going on strike.

“Whatever it takes to stop it, we will take that,” said Manhas.

The proposed bylaw will go before Edmonton City Council on Wednesday, September 16.

With files from 630 CHED and Jessica Kent, Global News

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