News / Edmonton

Uber legal in Edmonton: Council passes rideshare bylaw in 8-4 vote

New bylaw will allow any ridesharing firm to operate legally

Kevin Tuong/For Metro

Edmonton is the first Canadian city to make Uber legal after council passed a rideshare bylaw Wednesday following a marathon debate

In an eight to four vote, council passed the new bylaw, which will allow the company — or any ridesharing firm — to operate legally, provided they have sufficient insurance and register with the city.

The bylaw comes into force March 1.

Councillors Dave Loken, Brian Anderson, Tony Caterina and Mike Nickel were among those opposed.

Loken said the company’s illegal operations for more than a year made it feel like they were rewarding bad behavior.

“They have been obstante. They have complete ignored our laws. They have continued to operate without regard to what we’re trying to do here,” he said.

Mayor Don Iveson said it was a step forward, even if it wasn’t perfect.

“It enables innovation rather than constrains it. It enables competition rather than constrains it,” he said. “More choice is good for Edmontonians.”

Several councillors tried to change the proposed bylaw to include a minimum fare at 50 per cent of taxi fares, but the vote was split six-to-six — meaning the change failed.

Coun. Mike Oshry pushed for the minimum fare as well as a maximum. He said he didn’t care if that forced Uber from the city.

“My job here is not to do what’s best for Uber. My job is to do what’s best for the citizens of Edmonton."

Oshry voted in favour of the final bylaw, arguing the city needed something they could use to enforce the rules.

"This bylaw is severely flawed, however, I'm not sure we have a choice here.”

Council did set a minimum fare of $3.25 per trip, but also pledged to review the issue six months from now when more data on the industry is available.

Uber’s general manager for Alberta, Ramit Kar, applauded the decision.

“This is a great day for Edmonton. The leadership that the city has shown to put forward Canada’s first progressive ridesharing negotiations is a great thing.”

Uber still needs to get insurance that will be accepted by the province, which Kar said they hope to have before the bylaw comes into force.  

Taxi drivers who were shut out of the meeting on Tuesday after an angry protest erupted were disappointed in council’s final decision.

“This bylaw is essentially exactly what Uber has asked for since the beginning,” said Pascal Ryffel a spokersperson for the Alberta Taxi Group.

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