Uber is a step closer to being legalized in Canada’s capital after the Ottawa city council said on Wednesday that it has approved vehicle-for-hire regulations. Those regulations were first mooted two weeks ago and it means the city is just the third Canadian municipality to offer regulations for private transportation companies.
Ottawa is also the first city in Canada to adopt Uber legally and is likely to set a precedent that will at least see Toronto follow suit in the near future.
Edmonton was the first Canadian jurisdiction in Canada to change bylaws to accommodate PTCs, and it was also the first to get Uber to agree to the regulations. However, an auto insurance stumbling block ultimately postponed Uber’s legal debut in the city until the summer. Calgary was next with its own bylaw to adopt Uber, and while it mirrored Edmonton’s bylaw closely, Uber rejected it and left the city entirely.
What the company’s position on the Ottawa regulations is exactly remains to be seen, it is just as likely the company will agree to the laws as oppose them.
The City of Ottawa will said that the new laws will come into effect from Sept. 30, 2016. From then, any ride-sharing company wanting to operate within the city must take a license that is modelled off the license taxi brokers must acquire. In a press release, the council said the company must then give the city information about its drivers and vehicles, such as vehicle inspections, driver background checks, and insurance confirmation.
In Ottawa, city council also adopted a “lighter regulatory framework for the traditional taxi industry in order to allow it to compete and innovate with new service offerings,” the city said.
Allowing taxi companies to offer reduced fares when rides are booked through an app;
Eliminating the $1.50 credit and debit card fee;
Reducing the taxi driver license fee by 40% (from $170 to $96);
Waiving the taxi driver license fee for accessible taxis (from $170 to $0);
Eliminating interior and trunk size requirements for vehicles;
Increasing maximum vehicle age from eight to 10 years;
Allowing taxi companies to determine their own industry-specific customer service training, instead of the $820 standard taxicab driver course at Algonquin College;
Retaining taxis’ exclusive ability to accept “street hails,” together with exclusive use of taxi stands and lanes’
Retaining exclusive Para Transpo contract, worth about $9 million annually; and
Allowing for nominal cancellation fees and surcharges for premium vehicle options when rides are booked through an app.
Related: Uber launches campaign to gather public support ahead of Ottawa city vote
The City of Ottawa will continue to enforce the existing bylaw until the new regulations come into effect.
“Today’s decision moves our transportation system in the right direction by challenging the status quo and opening up the market to competition,” said Mayor Jim Watson in the release. “Ottawa should be a place where people have access to safe, competitive, affordable, and effective transportation options.”