Candidates look at Uber’s future in Saskatoon, but regulation remains an issue

Click to play video: 'Saskatoon mayoral candidates talk transportation issues with a focus on rider sharing services' Saskatoon mayoral candidates talk transportation issues with a focus on rider sharing services
WATCH ABOVE: On Tuesday, the talk among the four candidates running for mayor of Saskatoon was about transportation issues in the city, and the future of ride sharing services such as Uber. Ryan Kessler reports – Sep 27, 2016

The winner of the Saskatoon mayoral race may have to help determine how to regulate a rapidly developing technology.

Uber, a popular ride-sharing app for smart phones, publicly announced its interest in Saskatchewan in November 2014.

Mayoral candidate Kelley Moore included the service as part of her “overall vision” for Saskatoon, if elected.

“As mayor, I see [Uber] coming right to the table very quickly and it will need to be addressed,” she said.

READ MORE: Kelley Moore pitches rapid transit, park and ride for Saskatoon

One year ago, some Saskatoon taxi owners spoke at city hall, sharing concerns with Uber, including criminal record checks, job security and consumer safety.

At the time, city council committed to lobbying the provincial government to regulate Uber like a taxi service. With the exception of special insurance and plates from Saskatchewan Government Insurance (SGI), the province is leaving regulation to municipalities.

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“I see a future for it. I also see a future for our taxi drivers,” Moore said.

Saskatoon will need to adapt to the technology, but should learn from other Canadian markets that already have Uber, according to mayoral candidate Charlie Clark.

“We should save our money, save our staff time and basically steal from the best practices of other cities,” Clark said.

READ MORE: Charlie Clark to introduce community safety plan if elected Saskatoon mayor

Incumbent Don Atchison didn’t get into specifics about a possible upcoming announcement on ride-sharing, but said he has sat in a self-driving car.

“That’s what they’re using in Pittsburgh are autonomous vehicles for cabs right now, so those are things that we’re going to unveil in the next little while,” he said.

The other candidate in Saskatoon’s mayoral race said the campaign should focus on crime, roads and keeping taxes down.

“Just let business do its thing and stop trying to micromanage it. It costs taxpayers too much money,” Devon Hein said.

Uber Canada has stated it is open to working with governments to find appropriate scenarios for operations.

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