It’s official: the City of Vancouver is now a vocal supporter of ridesharing.
Council passed an amended version of a motion proposed by NPA Coun. Melissa De Genova Wednesday night, which called for Mayor Kennedy Stewart to write to Premier John Horgan expressing his support for per-kilometre ridesharing, alongside taxi service.
The move marks a shift in direction for council, which was seen as unfriendly to ridesharing when it voted to put a moratorium on new taxi licences in 2016.
That vote essentially froze out services like Uber while the province reviewed ridesharing.
The motion has also instructed staff to dig into options for ridesharing and study a possible “made in Vancouver” approach.
“The City of Vancouver didn’t wait for the province or the federal government on cannabis, it moved ahead years before. I’m hoping we can move together with the provincial government on ride sharing services,” said De Genova.
“Hopefully we’ll be able to help them move this along as well … at the same time we are providing an analysis on making sure that ridesharing services are safe above all else — we have to make sure we do figure out the insurance — but other cities have been able to do it, I don’t see why Vancouver can’t.”
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The staff report will analyze on the city’s ability to create or amend bylaws to promote ridesharing.
Staff have also been asked to report back on the impact of removing municipal boundaries for cab companies, a situation that would allow suburban and Vancouver taxis to prowl each other’s turf.
“That’s something that I was very concerned about because our taxis here in the city of Vancouver do an excellent job and they hold themselves to a higher standard than other suburban taxi companies,” De Genova said.
“One example of that is with our accessible cabs for persons with disabilities. They in fact put their drivers through an extra training course to make sure they have the skills necessary.”
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De Genova said other councillors proposed several other amendments to the motion, which were adopted.
Those include having staff study the impact of ridesharing on congestion in the city, along with potential questions around affordability with the service.
The report will also delve into the possibility of creating some form of co-op or city-owned ridesharing service.
Staff has been instructed to report by April 2019.
The NDP government introduced its own ridesharing legislation in November, but the service isn’t expected to be available until at least the fall of 2019.