Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum says he has “no concerns” over Uber’s threat of legal action against the city. (Photos: Now-Leader/Flickr) Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum says he has “no concerns” over Uber’s threat of legal action against the city. (Photos: Now-Leader/Flickr)

Still fining Uber drivers ‘far more aggressive’ than Surrey should act

So says Councillor Brenda Locke, confirming Monday bylaws officers still hitting Uber drivers with tickets

Surrey City Councillor Brenda Locke says the continued ticketing of Uber drivers is “far more aggressive” than she would like to see the City of Surrey act.

Locke told the Now-Leader at press time Monday that city staff confirmed to her tickets are still being imposed by bylaw enforcement officers.

“What they are saying is they are still ticketing drivers and they will continue to do that until there’s either a decision from court or from council, and that will come up at the next meeting,” Locke said.

Council’s next meeting is on Monday, Feb. 10. Locke said she expects council will then decide whether to move forward with “proper licensing in Surrey, because right now they don’t have business licences.”

“We are not an island when it comes to transportation and how people get around, we should just be letting this sort itself out with the provincial government. I’m going to stand by that – this is the provincial government’s issue, they should be dealing with it, and they are dealing with it, so I think it’s more aggressive than I would like to see our city act, ” Locke said. “The ticketing is far more aggressive than I would like to see us act, but we do have to come up with a licensing scheme, there’s no doubt about that. It’s my hope that we follow with all the other cities.”

For more than a week now Surrey’s bylaw officers have been hailing Uber drivers only to hit them with a $500 fine.

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Surrey City Councillor Brenda Locke. (File photo)

McCallum did not return a request for comment Monday. Asked about Surrey bylaws officers still ticketing Uber and its drivers – given the proposed Inter-Municipal Business Licence (IMBL) having been released on Friday – Oliver Lum, the City of Surrey’s communications manager, replied, “This matter is before the courts and there will be no further comment.”

Last week Michael van Hemmen, Uber’s head of Western Canada, revealed that Uber had filed for an injunction with the Supreme Court of British Columbia “to stop the City of Surrey from issuing illegal tickets.”

“The city’s actions are unfair to local residents who want to earn money and support their families,” he said. “It is also unfair to those who need a safe, affordable and reliable ride.”

The court is expected to hear arguments Wednesday, Feb. 5.

Meantime, McCallum said Friday in a canned statement that the proposed ride-hailing Inter-Municipal Business Licence (IMBL) agreement released by the Mayors’ Council of Regional Transportation “takes a major step forward” to address what he says is an “unfair advantage” ride-hailing companies have over taxi companies.

“I have not budged from my position that a level playing field must be in place for ride-hailing and taxi companies to compete in,” he reiterated in a press statement issued Friday by city hall. “My fight is about ensuring fair competition in a highly regulated industry. The IMBL approved by the Mayors’ Council today levels the playing field and it has my support. I now urge the province and the Passenger Transportation Board to do their part to establish equity for those employed in the vehicle for hire industry by reviewing taxi boundaries, fleet caps, insurance requirements, and ensuring ride-hailing vehicles provide accessible services for customers of all abilities.”

The Mayor’s Council is urging civic governments to start adopting this proposed bylaw as soon as possible. According to a TransLink press release, it provides a single set of requirements for participants. Under the IMBL, ride-hailing companies will be able to get one operating licence instead of separate business licences for each city or municipality, “which could become administratively onerous and expensive.”

READ ALSO: Uber wants court to stop Surrey ‘from issuing illegal tickets’

New Westminster Mayor Jonathon Coté, chairman of the Mayors’ Council, said the development of this IMBL “has demonstrated how our region can work collaboratively together.”

The IMBL would see ride-hailing companies pay a $155 yearly per-company fee and an additional $150 charge for each vehicle. This per-vehicle fee, however, will be waived for those that are wheelchair accessible, and be $30 for vehicles with no emissions. The City of Vancouver will administer the interim IMBL, and collect fees and trip data that will be shared with participating cities and municipalities each month.

Sophia Cote, Western Canada public policy manager for Lyft, said Friday her company is pleased the Mayors’ Council has agreed on the IMBL framework, “that will best serve the region’s residents and visitors.

“At Lyft, our mission is to improve people’s lives with the world’s best transportation, and we are optimistic that this draft bylaw will allow us to offer riders and drivers a more seamless transportation experience that reflects how people travel within the region,” she said.

“We are committed to continuing conversations with all participating municipalities so that we can see the IMBL come into effect, and will work with all relevant stakeholders to ensure the long-term regional approach best serves the needs of the region’s residents and visitors.”

Locke said Monday the continued fining came as a surprise to her because “as far as I knew, on Friday that had all been sorted out.”

“I even had passengers say they were worried about calling Uber because they didn’t know if they – people get all mixed up, with what’s happened – and they thought they would get a fine, too. The passenger.”

That’s not the case.

“I don’t like any of this, anyway,” Locke said. “It’s a provincial issue. Just let the Province figure it out, sort it out. I don’t get it.”



tom.zytaruk@surreynowleader.com

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