A newly-formed advocacy group is calling for ride-hailing companies, such as Uber and Lyft, to be in Halifax by Canada Day.
Halifax Regional Council voted Tuesday in favour of requesting a supplementary report on those types of companies.
“Either we can sit back and wait or hope it happens, or lend a voice and show council it is indeed wanted,” said Stephen Parker, the spokesperson for the group known as HRM Ride Hail.
“We don’t want this to become an issue that gets sidetracked by numerous other reports that are in a queue. Legislation is slow to move. We are a city that is vibrant, we have a city with a slogan to be bold and I think that it’s time to not just put that on a sign but put action behind it.”
Currently, there are no laws in Halifax preventing ride-hailing companies from operating, but they would be required to follow the same regulations as taxis. That includes having drivers get a taxi license, something that is not required in other cities where ride-hailing services are in operation.
WATCH: HRM taxi industry could see increase in taxi owner licenses, possibility of Uber and Lyft
But changing the current rules goes beyond the jurisdiction of the municipality.
“HRM is the licensing authority, but with regards to ride sharing or hailing, they need to have that permission done by the province first,” said District 4 Councillor, Lorelei Nicoll.
It was part of council discussions and on Tuesday, councillors also voted to make an ask of the province. But until that permission comes through, staff cannot complete the second report. Nicoll says it will likely take a year before it comes back to council.
“It’s going to be a work in progress,” she said. “It will come, I’d like to see it done, and done right,” she said.
But Parker’s group is pushing to have ride-hailing services operating in the city by July 1. He acknowledges that it’s an ambitious deadline but says it should be easier as Uber or Lyft are already operating in over 20 cities across the country.
“They’ve had challenges, we can learn from their challenges. We can see what needs to be done in terms of regulation and contact the companies and find out what they need in order to operate in this area,” he said.
In a survey conducted by HRM last year, 88 per cent of respondents said they wanted Uber or Lyft to come to Halifax. HRM Ride Hail is now hoping to collect 10,000 signatures on their petition, calling on council to aim for that July 1 deadline.
If Canada Day does come and go without a ride-hailing service, Parker says the group will have to reevaluate but will not give up.
“We want to keep this active in the public eye,” he said.