(Flickr image)

(Flickr image)

Surrey bylaw’s tactics with Uber drivers deemed ‘entrapment’ and ‘completely wrong’

That’s what Councillors Brenda Locke and Linda Annis had to say Monday about city staff hailing Uber drivers then issuing them warnings

Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum says the gloves are off.

“We gave Uber a grace period over the weekend by issuing warning tickets for non-compliance,” he said. “I felt that was only fair to give them an opportunity to comply.”

On Monday, he said 18 warnings had been issued to Uber drivers to date. “For those who continue to operate in Surrey,” McCallum said during a press conference at city hall, “there will no longer be any warning tickets and any violators caught will be ticketed and face a fine of $500.”

McCallum said a business license is required.

“Until that happens,” he said, “Uber is operating illegally in Surrey.”

Meantime, Surrey city councillor Linda Annis dismisses as “completely wrong” the city bylaws enforcement department’s tactic over the weekend of “luring” Uber drivers into Surrey only to hit them with a warning and the ride-hailing company with a $500 fine.

Councillor Brenda Locke echoed that.

“I think it’s an entrapment,” Locke said. “There are literally hundreds of businesses in Surrey that operate without a business licence.

“It seems pretty obviously directed at the mayor’s project, which I think is unfortunate,” she said.

“Surrey is not an island in all this. We are part of Metro Vancouver, we should be working with all of the other communities, cities in Metro Vancouver to make sure there’s some kind of co-ordinated effort. This is just pure silliness.”

Michael van Hemmen, in charge of Uber for Western Canada, says his company does not believe the City of Surrey has the authority to block it from doing business here.

“Premier Horgan has been clear that municipalities do not have the authority to prevent ridesharing companies from operating,” he stated.

“Uber and drivers have all the required approvals from the provincial government and the Passenger Transportation Board to operate in Metro Vancouver. We do not believe there is any legal basis for drivers to be fined by the City of Surrey.”

Annis said Monday that city staff told her three bylaws enforcement officers were directed to hail Uber drivers. “What I do know is that the bylaw officers that were calling the ride-hailing services were issuing warnings only to the drivers but were fining Uber at $500 per trip into Surrey.”

Rob Costanzo, the city’s general manager, did not return requests for comment. Nor did Kim Marosevich, Surrey’s bylaws enforcement manager.

READ ALSO: Surrey tells Uber to cease operations in citym but company ‘respectfully’ declines

READ ALSO: Uber says it’s been serving North Surrey since 8 a.m. Friday

READ ALSO: Surrey mayor the lone vote against regional business licensing for ride hailing

Asked if she thinks this is city business, or political business, Annis replied, “I think this is political business.”

“I feel it’s a very bad use of bylaw officers’ time – they should be focusing in on enforcing public safety issues in our city, not calling Uber drivers to come out to the city only to issue them a warning for coming here,” she said.

“The direction to city staff I don’t feel was appropriate. I don’t think this is proper utilization of city staff or resources, to bring in drivers only to issue them a warning. I think that is completely inappropriate,” she said. “To me it is completely wrong.”

Annis said there is a process set in place to approve how Uber will be operating in this city and “we should be letting the proper process to take shape, not luring Uber drivers or other ride-hailing services into Surrey only to issue infraction notices.”

McCallum told reporters Monday, “I want to state very clearly is I support ride hailing. I’ve said that from day one, I support ride hailing,” and that he thinks a majority on council do as well. “But it has to be on a level playing field with the taxi industry.”

He said cabbies have to pay $27,000 in insurance whereas Uber operators pay only $100. “That’s not fair,” he said, “that’s not fair what the government has done to allow that to happen.”

Mayor Doug McCallum has said it’s “no secret that a large percentage of cab drivers live in Surrey and the modest wages they earn go to support their families. As residents and as my constituents, it is my duty to do what I can to ensure that these jobs are not lost due to an unfair advantage that has been arbitrarily put in place.”

Meantime, there was uber confusion over the ride-hailing company operating in North Surrey on Friday, despite McCallum vowing to deny such ride-hailing companies business licences here. Matt MacInnis, vice president of corporate communications for Uber, told the Now-Leader that pick-ups and drop-offs were available in parts of Surrey as of 8 a.m. Friday.

On Friday night, the City of Surrey sent a letter to Uber to cease its operations by 9 p.m. but Uber declined.

McCallum argues that the taxi industry “meets the needs of all its passengers by having vehicles for hire that can accommodate people of all abilities.

“Until I am assured that a level playing field is established, I will not be supporting the issuing of ride hailing business licenses and, if there is a need, I will be asking for an increase in taxi licenses for operation in Surrey,” he said.

“I look forward to hearing about how the region will work with the province to ensure there is fair competition in the marketplace between ride hailing companies and the taxi industry.”

MacInnis said that “when it comes to business licences, there is a inter-municipality business licence process that the mayor’s council is going through now, and Uber is participating in the process.”

A Lyft press release issued by public relations company Citizen Relations indicated on Friday that there “are currently three driver hubs located in Surrey, Richmond and the City of Vancouver.” But Laurie Fletcher, a senior account executive with Citizen Relations, said Lyft is not operating in Surrey yet; however, we will be continuing to expand the operating area.

“We do have a hub there (in Surrey),” she said, “but we aren’t operating it there yet.”

“I can’t comment on the exact time,” she added. “We don’t have an official time frame.”

Annis said that if this ride-hailing business was not dealt with at Monday night’s meeting, “certainly if it’s not coming up I will ask that this be dealt with at the next council meeting in terms of how we’re going to position ride-hailing for the city. It’s not been voted on by council yet, and it’s not been discussed by council, so I think that’s the very obvious next step for us to do.”

Surrey Board of Trade CEO Anita Huberman, who has been a vocal advocate of ride-hailing, said the board is pleased with Lyft and Uber being approved to operate in the Lower Mainland and Whistler.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Members of the Wheeling 8’s dance group go on a roll at Surrey’s Chuck Bailey Recreation Centre in 2018, during the club’s 45th-anniversary event. If not for the pandemic, such activities could be socially prescribed as part of a new program involving Fraser Health and DiverseCity Community Resources Society. (File photo: Tom Zillich)
‘Social prescriptions’ connect Surrey seniors to activities and other services they need

Fraser Health-backed program involves GP referrals to a Seniors’ Community Connector with DiverseCity

Linda Annis, Aug. 12, 2020. (Photo: Malin Jordan)
Annis wants independent auditor general for Surrey

‘Surrey taxpayers deserve the best possible oversight of the tax dollars they send to city hall,’ Surrey councillor says

rcmp
South Surrey neighbours’ calls to police lead to break-and-enter arrest

‘Prime example’ of RCMP and public working together, constable says

SkyTrain’s end of the line, for now, in Whalley. (File photo)
Provincial budget watchers lament no mention of Surrey SkyTrain expansion

But $1.66 billion is earmarked for a second hospital for Surrey, in Cloverdale

A large crowd protested against COVID-19 measures at Sunset Beach in Vancouver on Tuesday, April 20, 2021. (Snapchat)
VIDEO: Large, police-patrolled crowds gather at Vancouver beach for COVID protests

Vancouver police said they patrolled the area and monitored all gatherings

Thousands have converged in Whonnock Lake Park to enjoy the nice weather. (Roxanne Hooper/The News)
Thousands enjoy B.C. park with warnings about social distancing

Portable toilets installed in anticipation of nice weather

FILE – The Instagram app is shown on an iPhone in Toronto on Monday, March 19, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
Judge acquits B.C. teen boy ‘set up’ on sex assault charge based on Instagram messages

The girl and her friends did not have ‘good intentions’ towards the accused, judge says

Kai Palkeinen recently helped a car stuck on the riverbed near the Big Eddy Bridge. While the car could not be saved, some of the driver’s belongings were. It’s common for vehicles to get stuck in the area due to significantly changing river levels from Revelstoke Dam. (Photo by Kai Palkeinen)
“I just sank a car’: Revelstoke resident tries to save vehicle from the Columbia River

Although it’s not permitted, the riverbed near the city is popular for off roading

Playland at the PNE is set to reopen this May, with COVID-19 health and safety measures approved by the province. (Website/Playland)
VIDEO: Playland at PNE scheduled to reopen this May to masked customers

British Columbians are discouraged from travelling outside of their local health authority to visit the theme park

Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Huawei, walks down the street with an acquaintance after leaving B.C. Supreme Court during a lunch break at her extradition hearing, in Vancouver, B.C., Thursday, April 1, 2021. A judge is scheduled to release her decision today on a request to delay the final leg of hearings in Meng Wanzhou’s extradition case. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Rich Lam
B.C. judge grants Meng Wanzhou’s request to delay extradition hearings

Lawyers for Canada’s attorney general had argued there is no justification to delay proceedings in the case

B.C. Premier John Horgan announces travel restrictions between the province’s regional health authorities at the legislature, April 19, 2021. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. sees 862 more COVID-19 cases Wednesday, seven deaths

Recreational travel restrictions set to begin Friday

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson is photographed following her budget speech in the legislative assembly at the provincial legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, April 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. budget lacks innovative drive, vision during uncertain times, say experts

Finance Minister Selina Robinson’s budget sets out to spend $8.7 billion over three years on infrastructure

Using panels kept cold by water circulating within them, B.C. researchers compared thermal comfort in 60 of the world’s most populous cities, including Toronto. (Lea Ruefenacht)
B.C. researchers use air conditioning to combat spread of COVID particles

Dr. Adam Rysanek and his team have proven a new worthwhile system – a mixture of cooling panels and natural ventilation

Most Read