Cities have been fighting to reject Uber for over a year, but when Edmonton voted to legalize the UberX service last month, it was seen a step forward. It was a victory for Uber and represented a path to show other cities in Canada how to come to agreeable terms with the ride-sharing company.
However, fast forward a month and Uber’s legalization dream is slowly turning into a nightmare and the company is saying it may even pull out of Edmonton and Alberta on Tuesday. The company says that the agreed stipulations with Edmonton cannot be met because the province of Alberta is unwilling to make concessions to accommodate Uber.
In other words, Uber has agreed with the city, but is being blocked by the province. Some cynical critics have stated that the city council of Edmonton knew the province would not play ball with Uber, and that the agreements for legalization were just a ploy to ultimately have the U.S. company leave the city and province.
Again, that is the cynical view, and Uber itself has made no accusations of that kind. Instead the company is levelling the blame squarely on the province of Alberta, saying the government will not make changes to licensing and insurance laws to help legalize the Uber X service.
Uber says it has agreed with a private insurance provider to supply a special commercial policy to its drivers, but Alberta needs to change laws first. It is ironically the reverse of what is happening in Ontario, where no city has legally adopted Uber, but the company has a viable and FSCO approved insurance source from Aviva Canada’s ride-sharing specific product.
The Edmonton bylaw that Uber agreed to states that drivers must carry provincially approved insurance, have an annual vehicle inspection and agree to a criminal record check. However, without provincial backing the company cannot achieve any of those things, and Ramit Kar, Uber manager in Alberta told a 150 strong protest crowd that the company could pull out of Alberta completely.
“We hope that the voice this group and the many voices they represent are heard by the province and that we see action soon,” Kar told cheering supporters, many of whom were Uber drivers.
“We hope to continue to see you on the road.”
Uber has had similar problems in Calgary, where the city council agreed on a bylaw to accommodate Uber last week. However, in that instance the company rejected the bylaw outright and did not reach an agreement, as it had in Edmonton.