Uber Draft Bylaw Draws Wrath of Toronto Taxi Lobby Groups

Uber Draft Bylaw Draws Wrath of Toronto Taxi Lobby Groups

A bylaw draft offered by Uber to the Toronto city council has drawn the wrath of taxi industry representatives, who are accusing the company of trying to influence the law making process.

Toronto’s council is due to release a report on April 7 that will likely state which regulations it has put in place to try and accommodate Uber. The decision is hugely important as the result could see Uber become legal in Canada’s largest city or pull out of the market if it refuses to work with regulators.

Taxi lobbyists have said that they uncovered a draft bylaw that was sent from Uber to the government stating which regulations should be put in place. Uber has dismissed the complaint but the lobby groups are fighting back and saying the company is attempting to unfairly influence the process.

The draft in question is said to be hugely detailed, something Rita Smith, executive director of the Toronto Taxi Alliance, says is uncommon:

“I don’t think councilors are going to like the concept of a foreign, private sector company writing the legislation to staff … I have never seen this level of detail before, at any level of government,” she said. “This has been Uber’s stealth method of operations in many other jurisdictions.”

Uber on the other hand counters by saying that it is indeed common practice for major companies to aid governments in the legislation process:

“Uber and all parties involved in the ground transportation industry were invited to make submissions on regulations for consideration by ML&S, (Municipal Licensing and Standards),” Uber’s Susie Heath wrote in email.

“We regularly share examples of ridesharing regulations with regulators to help them better understand how jurisdictions around the world are regulating ridesharing.”

The draft bylaw apparently called on the council to create a separate category for Uber and other ride-sharing companies, a Transportation Network Company, or TNC. This kind of separation has been seen in some U.S. state and Uber thinks it is a good way to regulate its service.

“TNCs or TNC drivers are not common carriers or commercial motor vehicles (as defined in the Highway Traffic Act of the Province of Ontario),” the Uber document states.

“A TNC driver shall not be required to register the vehicle such driver uses for TNC services as a commercial or for hire vehicles.”

Interestingly, this week Uber called on Toronto to adopt Edmonton’s legalization bylaw, which the company agreed to but it more draconian than its draft legislation. This could mean that the city of Toronto outright dismissed Uber’s motion for a TNC category to be created, leading the company to seek other regulations.

Edmonton instructed Uber to pay $70,000 per year and 6 cents from each fare, while drivers must hold Class 4 licenses, be subjected to background checks, and be properly insured.

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