The ramifications of Ottawa adopting Uber and other ride-sharing companies with new regulations are still being felt. The disgruntled taxi industry has opted to file an uncertified class-action lawsuit against the City of Ottawa for $215 million.
Cabbies say the action is directly because of the bylaw rules that will let Uber to open operations legally in the city during September. The taxi industry is really going after the city too with the largest ever lawsuit filed against the Ottawa government. In the suit, the industry says the City of Ottawa did not take “reasonable steps to maintain the integrity.”
Other accusations of the suit state that the city should have implemented the changes instantly when Uber entered Ottawa in 2014. Since then the company has been operating illegally in the city. The city took “vastly inadequate steps to enforce the regulatory scheme against Uber drivers.”
Taxi drivers also argue that the city should have implemented a transition period where the old strict rules were phased out in favor of more open rule designed to allow Uber to work in Ottawa. The city first approved the new bylaw regulations in April and the new laws will be coming into effect on September 30. Cabbies argue this five month period should have been longer.
The suit has been filed by the companies (Capital Taxi and Marc Andre Way) with the most taxi plates operating in the city. In its response, the city has said it will defend itself against the accusations.
“Legal services remains confident in both the validity of the new taxi regulatory scheme, as well as in its position that the city was not, and is not, under a legal obligation to provide financial compensation for any loss in the notional or street value of a taxi license as a result of the changes in the taxi regulatory scheme,” O’Connor wrote.
“Obviously, they would have preferred to have had the city listen more carefully to their concerns and to have addressed their concerns,” said Tom Conway, one of the lawyers representing Capital Taxi and Way.
“The vast majority of the class members are small business people who’ve worked very hard in this community. They contribute to their community. They pay their taxes. They obey the law, they obey the bylaws. In my view, they haven’t been treated in the manner the city should’ve treated a thousand small business people in Ottawa.”