Canada’s capital city has opened its doors to Uber and has undergone a massive bylaw review that will see its regulations changed to allow ride-sharing companies enter the market. The Ottawa council said it is “taking the handcuffs off” the taxi industry by allowing Uber to enter the market, with regulations designed to make competition fairer.
Coun. Diane Deans, who sat as the chair of the Community and Protective Services Committee said there had been a lengthy review of the bylaw and said the city acted in the interest of consumers.
“Let’s be clear: the public has overwhelmingly indicated that they want greater choice in their transportation options,” said Deans.
“In moving towards a more modern, innovative and competitive market environment, the city no longer believes that the same level of regulation that existed in the past will be necessary in the future.”
Under the new bylaws, drivers working for Uber or any other vehicle for hire will have to undergo a police record check and a check of their personal driving record. Only vehicles younger than 10 years old can be used as a vehicle for hire, while all such vehicles need a minimum auto insurance liability of $5 million, which is interestingly the amount Uber covers it drivers for.
Uber is classed as a private cab under the new bylaw and as such can only pick up passengers after pre-arranging through an app, and not by being hailed on the street. No cash payments will be allowed and Uber/drivers must pay a 10.5 cents charge for each fare, which they will also pay an annual license fee, the amount of which has not been revealed.
While the city of Edmonton made it clear that Uber drivers would need proper auto insurance coverage, Ottawa has made no such direct stipulation. However, Ontario is home to Aviva Canada’s ride-sharing specific coverage, which protects drivers’ vehicles.
The recommendations will be debated by councilors at a committee meeting next week, and, if approved, move on to council on April 13. The new bylaw regulations could be in effect as soon as June 30.