News / Calgary

Uber moving towards regulation in Edmonton, Calgary

Insurance questions remain

Metro File

Both the City of Calgary and Edmonton have taken steps towards regulating UberX, the popular ridesharing company, now operating illegally in two Alberta cities.

Monday Calgary councillors voted in favour of an option presented by administration to create a framework, and opted to come back in February with a drafted bylaw, hoping it will pass quickly in the new year.

Edmonton city councillors didn’t approve an Uber-permitting ridesharing bylaw Tuesday, but took a step towards that resolution by passing first reading.

Mayor Don Iveson said “a lot rests on council’s decision” on the bylaw.

Uber has threatened to leave town if the bylaw’s fee schedule doesn’t change, and taxi supporters are afraid loose regulations would ruin the industry.

“Council is working very hard to try to balance these various interests,” Iveson said. “We know that cabs will continue to be essential to Edmontonians… at the same time we know that citizens are looking for these new options.”

He explained that one way or another, Edmonton’s vehicle for hire industry needs an increased capacity.

He wants to accommodate ridesharing “because it’s what citizens want, and it’s the best way to meet (that need) rather than issue more cab licenses.”

Iveson said council took a “very deliberate step forward” by passing the first reading of the bylaw and directing administration to bring forward amendment options on January 26.

He also hopes that between now and then, Uber’s insurance, which the city and province have called insufficient, gets up to snuff.

Uber spokesperson Xavier Van Chau said the company is working with Intact and provincial authorities to “develop a new insurance model.”

“We are trying to bring solutions that are specific to the ridesharing market,” Van Chau said.

Iveson said deferring a final decision leaves time for that to play out, and gives administration time to look into “fees and fares,” two sticking points with councillors and stakeholders alike.

During Tuesday’s debate, councillors voted not to force taxi rates on companies like uber, and also voted not to require drivers undergo mandatory training.

“What you see in both of those decisions is a trend towards deregulation,” Iveson said. “I think that’s consistent with where we’ll wind up with this bylaw."

- With files from Helen Pike

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