London meeting sees differing opinions

London meeting sees differing opinions

Residents in London attended a public meeting at Centennial Hall to discuss the city’s plans for Uber and changing bylaws to accommodate the company. The meeting was conducted by the city council’s community and protective service committee and some 110 Londoners turned out to see the debate on the proposed regulations.

“We look forward to hearing comments from the public on the proposed bylaw tonight,” said Coun. Virginia Ridley, who chaired the meeting.

Some expected more people to show up. Coun. Harold Usher said that the crowd was surprisingly small, commenting “I see a smaller audience than I personally anticipated”. Considering the controversy between Uber and the traditional taxi industry, it was believed there would be more people in attendance.

Orest Katolyk, the city’s chief municipal law enforcement officer, said that London will get tough with drivers and demand “all driver applicants will be required to submit criminal background checks.”

Jamie Cleary, vice-president of Western University students’ council that represents 30,000 undergrads argued that he knows why Uber would be appealing to students: “It’s understandable that Uber is popular with students . . . We believe that it caters to the needs of students.”

Steve Everett, who is an Uber driver and was probably not popular amongst taxi drivers in attendance, explained why Uber represents a good economic opportunity for him. “I think Uber is a great part-time opportunity for me and my family,” Everett said. “I think they’ve got the future in hand.”

Didi Pinto also works for Uber and discussed the controversial cameras and panic buttons: “It’s a myth. It’s there for the protection of the drivers.”

However, not all people are happy to see Uber potentially come to London. Brad Rice, vice-president of business development for Voyageur and Checker Limousine said competition is good, and Uber providers that. He did add a caveat that unregulated competition is dangerous. “Checker will not endorse a race to the bottom,” Rice argued.

Chris Schafer, public policy manager with Uber Canada: “There’s some aspects of the bylaw that pose challenges to the future of Uber in London . . . I think we need to broaden the bylaw to include new ways of doing things.”

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