Mayor Nenshi renounces Uber scare tactic
Company applies pressure ahead of Feb. 22 vote
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Uber is on the offensive in Calgary as the calendar nears Feb. 22 when councillors will debate new bylaw legalizing rideshare services in the city.
"Calgary’s draft rules would unfortunately keep ridesharing from returning to local residents," read a statement issued by Ramit Kar, Uber Alberta GM. "We hope Councillors will reconsider these draft rules and remain open to the views of the public who want new reliable and affordable transportation alternatives.”
Mayor Naheed Nenshi renounced the company's tactic, calling it an empty threat.
"They've made that threat a number of times in a number of jurisdictions," said Nenshi. "As far as I know they've never actually followed through on that threat anywhere."
Monday the app-based ride company launched a campaign in Calgary urging users to share their support for vehicle-for-hire service. Currently there are tens of thousands at Uber's disposal to approach city councillors and the mayor's office about the "unworkable" proposed bylaw.
The company is suggesting that the city's draft bylaw would make it impossible for them to operate as it requires upwards of $500 in "administrative costs," in vehicle inspections, Calgary Police background checks, and the daily data collection Uber suggest are "unnecessary" to oversee regulation.
But Nenshi begs to differ – rebutting with the fact that his office found a past driver who passed Uber's background check didn't quite get through when Calgary Police Service did its own sleuthing.
"We know of at least one case where someone with a criminal conviction made it through Uber's third party screening process," said Nenshi. "Calgary's rules have four basic criteria: the vehicle has to be inspected, the driver has to pass a police background check, the driver has to have a driver's licence, the car has to have insurance. To me those sound like very, very reasonable requests, I don't think any Calgarian would disagree with those requests."
Uber released a statement on the mayor's claims Monday.
"Today was the first time the city has made these allegations and they have not
provided us any information to investigate this claim," read the statement. "Users consistently give feedback that they feel safer in an Uber, thanks to our technology and safety approach which includes a thorough background check."
Uber sent city councillors a letter detailing their concerns with the bylaw last week.