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Ottawa could be next in line for Lyft as company gears up for Toronto expansion

Lyft is the main competitor to Uber, but only in the United States. The ride-sharing business recently announced that Toronto would be its first non-American city.

In this Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2016, file photo, a driver displaying Lyft and Uber stickers on his front windshield drops off a customer in downtown Los Angeles.

Richard Vogel/AP

In this Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2016, file photo, a driver displaying Lyft and Uber stickers on his front windshield drops off a customer in downtown Los Angeles.

After announcing their plans to expand to Toronto by year's end, it appears rideshare company Lyft may, at the very least, be kicking the tires in Ottawa as well.

According to the city's lobbyist registry, Mathieu Gravel, Ottawa’s director of outreach, met with Lyft’s senior director of public policy Robert Grant and lobbyist Jason Grant of Crestview Strategies, an Ottawa- and Toronto-based public affairs agency representing the ride-share company at the federal level. The meeting took place on October 17.

On the same day, according to federal lobbying activity filings, Clark also met with staff from the Prime Minister's Office and Transport Canada on behalf of the company.

Clark confirmed the meeting, but said he could not comment further. Multiple attempts to reach Grant were unsuccessful. Lyft acknowledged, but did not respond, to Metro's requests for comment.

Lyft is the main competitor to Uber, but only in the United States. It's a smaller company and Toronto would be its first non-American city, but it has been praised by some for its more rigorous driver training and for generally avoiding the types of scandals that have dogged Uber over the past year.

A spokesperson for Lyft did not answer whether or not the company was planning an Ottawa expansion, and declined to comment on the contents of the meeting with city staff.

"There are a number of cities across the country that would be a good fit for Lyft," they said, "but right now we’re focused on a successful Toronto launch."

Susie Heath, a spokesperson for Uber Canada, said that "we welcome competition that encourages the use of more transportation alternatives. More options can help reduce congestion and pollution as consumers increasingly make the switch from driving their own car to using shared mobility services."

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