The City of Ottawa announced on Thursday that it is recommending extensive changes to its bylaws in an attempt to accommodate and regulate Uber and other ride-sharing companies. The taxi industry, which has opposed Uber fiercely, has reacted angrily to a report released by the city which details the bylaw.
Representatives have said there is “nothing” in the report for taxi drivers, but Ottawa council members argue that the bylaw legalizes Uber and makes the company accountable. With drivers have to pay fees there will be a fairer balance between Uber and the taxi industry. The city also says it listened to consumer demand for more choice.
Taxi drivers have protested against Uber since the company arrived in Ottawa in 2014, trying to ban the company from the city. Even this week the Ottawa taxi union saw an application to ban Uber from the city turned away by a judge, with Justice Robert Smith saying the cities report was relevant and needed to be seen first.
Taxi driver’s license fees will be reduced from $170 to $96 for standard cabs under the new bylaws, while accessible cab fees will decrease to between $170 and no charge. Taxi drivers will also no longer need to undergo training, while the $1.50 service charge for debit and credit card transactions will be removed.
However, Amrik Singh, President of the Ottawa Taxi Union, is unimpressed and said the report forgets his industry.
“There is nothing for taxi drivers. What did we do wrong to deserve this? Why would we want to accommodate a foreign company who’s not paying a single cent to Ottawa’s economy?” he said following the technical briefing at City Hall.
It is still unclear if Uber would even accept these bylaw changes if they were to come in effect. The company said it would look closely at the report before making a lasting judgement, but Uber Canada spokesperson, Susie Heath, said that the company is pleased the Ottawa showed “recognition of the public demand for new technologies, and for working diligently to find accommodation through changes in regulations.”