Edmonton city council devolves into yelling, shirtlessness, over Uber
'What's it going to be, guys?'
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It was pandemonium in Edmonton City Hall Tuesday as cabbies lost their shirts — literally — and aggressively protested city hall’s efforts to pass amendments to the “vehicle for hire” bylaw draft.
“Shame, shame!” the cabbies cried, with a few of them taking off their shirts to symbolize how new rules could take the shirts off their backs.
The outburst was triggered by mention of lifting the cap on taxi plates, but the cabbies oppose much of the bylaw and its amendments, predominantly for making it possible for Uber and like companies to chip away at and devalue their business.
The ruckus forced Mayor Don Iveson to recess the meeting.
He and council eventually returned—albeit with about a dozen EPS officers—and pass a motion with several recommendations for administration to work into the new bylaw, including the ability for cab companies to have the same shot at self-regulation as companies like Uber.
Before that happened, acting city manager Linda Cochran brought peace into council chambers.
She quieted the crowd as EPS and security ushered people back to their seats, and made it clear no outbursts would be tolerated.
“No matter how you feel about it, you do not speak,” she told the protesters. “If you speak, or if you shout, or if you chant, they will stop, and it will be over."
The crowd complied, and Cochran calmed them while they waited for council to return and city staff offered water to anyone still seated.
Then, one person joked that they’d like pizza.
“I don’t think the mayor is in a buying pizza mood right now,” Cochran said, earning a laugh from the crowd.
When Iveson and council returned, he said the bylaw will “doubtless create some unintended consequences,” but that the city would continue to work with the cabbies “to make the taxi industry more sustainable and competitive over time in the changing market.”