‘Uber can’t operate in Calgary’ under approved bylaw, says spokesperson

Click to play video: 'Uber fight back in Calgary city council chambers' Uber fight back in Calgary city council chambers
WATCH: Proposed revisions to Calgary city bylaws that would allow ride sharing services like Uber into the Calgary market are before council. Global’s Gary Bobrovitz reports – Feb 22, 2016

Uber says it’s not going to operate in the city of Calgary even though council approved a new set of ride-sharing regulations Monday.

The amended bylaw would force Uber drivers to undergo police background checks, be properly insured (a provincial regulatory issue), hold proper Class 4 licences and have their vehicles undergo safety checks. The city dropped required safety inspections to once a year, rather than an initial ask of twice a year.

READ MORE: Uber pressures Alberta to act on insurance, licensing before March

Calgary city council’s approval meant the bylaw would start April 4, allowing service to become legal then.

But following the approval, Uber Alberta director Ramit Kar told reporters it was “unacceptable.”

Calgary city livery representatives at a council meeting Feb 22, 2016.

READ MORE: Brett Wilson offers $100K to Calgary Public Library if city approves Uber

“We will discuss with the city where we go from here but Uber can’t operate in Calgary under this new bylaw,” Kar said.

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Uber says the new bylaw would force costs of up to $600 on Uber drivers who only drive part time on average 10 hours a week, and can’t afford the upfront costs.

“It’s really trying to fit ride-sharing into a taxi model,” Kar said. “One key example of that would be the fee structure in the sense that drivers would be required to pay hundreds and hundreds of dollars before they are allowed on the platform.”

Mayor Naheed Nenshi dismissed Uber’s earlier claims the new bylaw would not allow them to operate freely and fairly.

“I really look forward to them telling the masses, ‘we don’t believe in a police check or a vehicle inspection,’” Nenshi said. “We’ll see how the masses will do with that. …I’m not sure the masses are going to rise up for that argument, and having said that, I know a grand total of three places where they have actually withdrawn services and in those three places they came back to see regulatory regulations that were more onerous than what we approved here.”

READ MORE: Uber complains city council’s ‘unworkable rules’ will prevent them from coming to Calgary

The City of Calgary’s Livery Transportation Bylaw didn’t previously allow unlicensed private for-hire vehicles to operate in Calgary due to a variety of public safety concerns.

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A representative from Calgary’s taxi industry said the new regulations were fair.

“We now have a level playing field  for everyone–both us and Uber–and we can live with that,” president of Associated Cabs Roger Richard said.

Nenshi said he is open to hearing from other ride-sharing companies like Lyft coming into the Calgary market if Uber decides not to operate in the city.

The City of Calgary released the requirements for Uber or Lyft drivers Monday afternoon:

  • An annual operating licence from the City of Calgary;
  • Valid Class 4 driver’s licence;
  • Annual Calgary Police Service (CPS) background check;
  • Proof of valid commercial insurance as required by the government of Alberta;
  • Proof of eligibility to work in Canada;
  • Proof of provincially-approved 134-point mechanical inspection, conducted annually or every 50,000 kilometres–whatever comes first.

With files from Global’s Erika Tucker

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