Volume 12 Week 5

Wednesday, Jan. 16


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Orléans Ward
Matt Luloff

Beacon Hill,
Cyrville Ward
Tim Tierney




(Updated 1:30 p.m., April 13)
City council votes to legalize Uber

By Fred Sherwin
Orléans Online

Ottawa city council have approved regulations that will allow private transportation companies to operate legally beginning Sept. 20. File photo

Uber drivers in Ottawa will be able to operate legally as of Sept. 30, so long as they pass several criteria aimed at protecting consumers.

Uber drivers will have to clear a criminal records and vulnerable sector check; provide up to $2 million in commercial lia-bility insurance; and acquire an operating license from the city.

The conditions were passed by city council on Wednesday
as part of the new regulations governing the vehicle-for-hire industry, including taxis.

Despite a call from some councillors for Uber to suspend operations until the compliance date, the ride sharing app-based company will continue transporting customers while its drivers self comply between now and next fall.

Uber has been operating in Ottawa as a rogue vehicle-
for-hire business since 2013. According to the study that formed the basis for the new regulations, Uber has more than 1,500 drivers in Ottawa all of whom will have to adhere to the new regulations by Sept. 30.

One of the most contentions issues raised during Wednesday’s discussion of the new regulations was the exclusion of Uber drivers from having to install closed circuit cameras in their vehicles.

CCTVs have been mandatory in Ottawa taxis at the expense of the taxi owners since 2005.

By not requiring Uber drivers to install CCTVs in their vehicles and maintaining the same requirement for taxi operators, the taxi industry believes it establishes an unlevel playing field.

Knoxdale-Merivale Coun. Keith Egli summed up the sentiments of a number of the councillors who believe requiring security cameras in vehicles for hire is a public safety issue.

“Cameras make sense. Cameras are a deterrent,” said Egli. “Resi-dents want to be safe. Cameras are the best way to ensure just that."

The motion requiring Uber drivers to install security cameras in their cars failed on a 9-15 vote. Instead, the issue is being referred for further study over the next 12 months, at which time it will be part of a larger review of the new regulations.

Council did pass a motion reducing the required insurance coverage from $5 million to $2 million for all vehicle-for-hire operators in Ottawa. A second proposed amendment that would have established a maximum age limit for vehicles at 10 years rather then eight years, failed on a tie vote.

In the end, the main motion allowing Uber to operate legally passed 23-1. All three east end councillors voted in favour of the motion. The only dissenting vote was cast by West Carleton Coun. Eli El-Chantiry.

Before they can operate legally Uber most pay the city a flat annual license fee estimated at $7,253 based on their current size. Uber must also remit a fee of 10.5 cents per ride. Failure to comply would subject Uber to a minimum fine of $100,000

Taxi drivers will see their annual license fee reduced from $170 to $96, and they will no longer have to charge a $1.50 fee for debit and credit card transactions.

Taxi drivers would also be allowed to operate anywhere in the City of Ottawa and taxi companies will be permitted to implement variable pricing for fares that are pre-arranged through an app such as e-cab.

Uber drivers would be limited to picking customers by means of the app only, and only Uber drivers with Ontario license plates will be allowed to operate in Ottawa. Out-of-province drivers would subject to heavy fines.

(This story was made possible thanks to their generous support of our local business partners.)


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