A Surrey city councillor says she was told that the city’s bylaw officers were directed to target ridesharing vehicles over the weekend.
Linda Annis told Global News that Surrey’s general manager of corporate services Rob Costanzo informed her at a morning meeting of the initiative.
Annis said bylaw officers were instructed to book Uber vehicles and when the drivers arrived, to issue them a warning along with a $500-per-car fine to the company.
“To call a car that you are not wanting to use to issue a warning, to me, is totally inappropriate, and their time should be used for better things in terms of doing bylaw enforcement in Surrey,” said Annis.
Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum is slated to speak to the media at 3 p.m. Monday. The mayor has previously said the ridesharing regime is unfair to taxi drivers, who must operate within smaller zone boundaries and with fleet size restrictions.
On Friday, Surrey sent Uber a notice warning it to cease operations in the city or face fines.
Surrey has so far refused to issue municipal business licences to any ridesharing companies.
Speaking on CKNW’s The Simi Sara Show, Surrey Coun. Jack Hundial said it was unfair to be targeting workers operating the Uber vehicles, adding he’d pay the first $500 fine issued to any Uber operator.
“We can’t be penalizing the drivers,” he said.
“If you want to issue a fine as a city, then you address it with Uber, not with individual drivers. These guys and girls are just trying to make extra money to support themselves,” he said.
Surrey had a council meeting scheduled for Monday night, and Hundial said that while ridesharing wasn’t on the agenda, it would likely be discussed.
Uber, which launched with a service area including most of Surrey, has said it won’t stop operating in the city.
B.C.’s Ministry of Transportation says Surrey does not have the authority to ban ride-hailing companies.
Under the province’s Transportation Network Services (TNS) regulations, cities can set the requirements for a business licence, but cannot stop companies from operating within the region if they’ve won a licence from the Passenger Transportation Board (PTB).
Metro Vancouver is currently working on region-wide business licences for ridesharing companies but said there will be no significant movement on the initiative until February.
Uber currently has a municipal licence to operate in Delta, Richmond and Vancouver.