Cab drivers worried about Uber pack Winnipeg city hall

More than a dozen Winnipeg taxi drivers went to city hall Wednesday to try and get their voice heard .
More than a dozen Winnipeg taxi drivers went to city hall Wednesday to try and get their voice heard . Rudi Pawlychyn/Global News

Ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft could soon be on Winnipeg streets, and taxi drivers that currently operate on those roads are not happy about it.

A message dozens of drivers took to city hall Wednesday.

The taxicab industry in Manitoba has long voiced displeasure about Uber, which has been introduced with mixed results in other Canadian markets.

With the province likely to pass the Local Vehicles for Hire Act next month, and with a date of February 2018 pegged for when municipalities would take over governing the industry, taxi drivers want a say in determining the rules that would govern the streets.

“What kind of laws are involved for us, what kind of laws are involved for internet taxis, we need those discussed,” said local cab driver Paul Sandhu. “That can only be discussed if they’re talking to us. They’re not talking to us.”

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The cab drivers were invited to city hall by Councillor Ross Eadie, who came up with a motion to create a working group that would ensure more input from the taxi industry.

That motion will be heard at a city committee meeting next month, but that didn’t stop Eadie from sharing his true feelings about ride-sharing companies.

“Uber is a very aggressive, inconsiderate, money-making monolith. Just having a Class 4 licence doesn’t mean you should be able to drive public consumers that are paying for the trip,” Eadie railed in response to Uber leaving Quebec. “I can’t believe they pulled out. What, because it’s cutting into their 25 per cent profit margin?”

Mayor Brian Bowman stopped short of committing to establishing a working group, but didn’t close the door on the idea.

“The public service is currently meeting with the taxicab stakeholders, they’ve been open about that with council. We want to make sure that dialogue is there,” Bowman said. “When the administrative report comes forward, if council feels that consultation was inadequate, we’ll make a decision at that point.”

Sandhu admitted that he’s aware of consultations, but complained that the questions being asked were too rigid and did not allow back-and-forth discussion of relevant issues.