EDMONTON – Ride-sharing companies like Uber will soon be allowed to legally operate in Edmonton after city council passed new rules Wednesday.
The bylaw passed by a vote of eight to four.
On Tuesday, before debate even began councillor Mike Nickel put forward a motion asking council to put the debate on hold until there was full representation but it was defeated by a vote of nine to three.
The Ward 12 council seat is currently empty, left vacant by Amarjeet Sohi, who was elected as an MP in last fall’s federal election.
The issue of the vacant seat led some to wonder if the outcome of the debate could have ended differently had there been a full council.
“I think they should have waited until we had a full vote,” Preet Toor, one of 32 people running in the Ward 12 byelection, said Thursday. Toor was in council chambers Tuesday and Wednesday to watch the debate.
Motions came forward for ride-share companies to have minimum time and distance fares, but at lower rates. Tie votes saw the motions defeated, with no Ward 12 councillor to break the tie. Instead, a minimum per-trip fee of $3.25 was approved.
“If we would have had representation from the Ward 12 it could have just turned the other way around,” Toor said. “The majority of the taxi operators are from Ward 12 and for 3,319 people, their livelihood is at stake with the new bylaw, and they should have waited for fair presentation.”
While some believe the debate should have been postponed, others think that would have just put off an already ongoing issue. Irfan Chaudry, who is also running in the Ward 12 byelection, said while it’s important for everyone to have a voice, business can’t simply come to a halt.
“At the end of the day, if they wait on this then they have to wait on every other decision, right?” Chaudry said.
“I’m comfortable with moving forward with something like this because business needs to conduct as usual. Most companies, most businesses, if they’re missing a key position – they still have business to operate, they still have services to deliver.”
Mayor Don Iveson voted in favour of moving ahead with debate and stands by his decision.
“I think council made the right decision to move ahead… because we need to have an enforceable bylaw sooner rather than later. Delay has served nobody, it creates more uncertainty,” Iveson said Tuesday.
“Everybody wants to get on with this.”
The newly elected council member will get to have their say on the bylaw when it comes up for review six months after the first ride share licence is issued.
The new vehicle-for-hire bylaw will come into effect Mar. 1.
With files from Vinesh Pratap, Global News.
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