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Premier Horgan struck by ridesharing roadblocks

Green’s Andrew Weaver accuses John Horgan of 'kicking the can down the road' but premier says the path to ridesharing is more complex than he ever imagined.

In this Monday, Sept. 12, 2016, file photo, a self-driving Uber sits ready to take journalists for a ride during a media preview in Pittsburgh.

Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press / Metro Web Upload

In this Monday, Sept. 12, 2016, file photo, a self-driving Uber sits ready to take journalists for a ride during a media preview in Pittsburgh.

British Columbia Premier John Horgan says implementing ridesharing in the province is more complex than he ever imagined.

Asked if he would support Green leader Andrew Weaver’s private member’s bill on ridesharing, to be introduced Thursday, Horgan maintained the province isn’t ready for services like Uber and Lyft.

“I’m not optimistic based on my now new understanding of the complexity of this issue,” Horgan said. “I don’t believe a private member’s bill would address the myriad of concerns that this issue brings to the public, in terms of safety and ensuring the existing [taxi] industry has some sense they’re competing fairly.”

Earlier this week, government reneged on its promise to introduce ridesharing legislation by the end of 2017 and instead commissioned an independent report due next year.

The province now says legislation is likely in fall 2018.

The delay dominated his availability with media on Wednesday.

“We would have hoped to be able to move quick on this file,” said Horgan. “We made a commitment during the campaign, as did the Greens and the Liberals, to bring forward ridesharing. We wanted to make sure not that we do this quickly, but that we do it correctly.”

Horgan said six different pieces of legislation have to be amended to pave the way for ridesharing in B.C.

“It’s not easy,” he admitted.

But Weaver told Metro he’ll forge ahead with his own bill Thursday and accused the NDP of over-protecting the taxi industry.

“What the NDP have done is commission a report on the taxi industry where the terms of reference are such that companies like Lyft are not even to be contacted as part of this,” Weaver said. “Kicking the can down the road is not actually dealing with the issue before us and I think we need to deal with it sooner than later.”

Weaver believes it is hypocritical of British Columbia to position itself as a tech hub when it is on the only major jurisdiction in North America without ridesharing.

He said the services would supplement, not hurt, the taxi industry in the long-term.

“We’ll never be innovators of tech if we’re not willing to embrace those tech innovations,” he said. “But what’s being done, of course, is people are fear mongering, based on being afraid of change.”

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