A draft bylaw for ridesharing goes before council Monday, as the city moves towards creating a framework to allow Uber to operate in Calgary.
Not every councillor is on board with the proposed changes and Uber has made it clear it considers the bylaw unworkable as it stands.
Councillor Evan Woolley says they need to create a system which is safe and the challenge is striking a good balance.
“Uber needs to have the ability to have their drivers, as well as those using the system, to have ease of access into the system and there costs and time that associated with creating that ease of access,” he said.
But the general manager for Uber Alberta, Ramit Kar, argues the proposal shoehorns ridesharing into a taxi or limousine model and buries drivers in red tape.
“They’re requiring our drivers to pay upwards of $600 in administrative fees,” he said. “Our driver partners usually drive for Uber part time so I’ll take Edmonton as an example where two-thirds of our driver partners drive less than 10 hours a week. They should ask for it to be sent back to staff for more consultation with the industry to make sure ridesharing can come back to Calgary.”
Two major sticking points remain background checks and insurance.
Kar says Uber already does its own background checks, which are as thorough as one you’d do to get a firearm and while insurance hasn’t been a problem anywhere else, he points out Intact Insurance is working with the province to create a ridesharing-specific policy.
“We agree on paying fees, we agree on background checks, we agree on vehicle inspections, we fully agree that all of these things need to be done it’s just the how it’s done,” he argued. “If this bylaw goes forth as written, we will not be able to operate. We’re not trying to play a negotiation game, this is a simple fact we won’t be able to operate given the onerous regulations they’ve put forward here.”
Woolley reinforced the point the insurance aspect, as well as the class of license, is decided at the provincial level and said that may give council more time to talk about the bylaw.
“We know that those aren’t going to be coming before at least the fall legislative session and so if there’s some more time to negotiate and we have that conversation with council, that’s something I’m more than happy to explore,” he said.
In a brief back-and-forth on Twitter, Councillor Shane Keating argued some amendments need to be made, saying two auto inspections a year were unreasonable, while Councillor Diane Colley-Urquhart tweeted the proposal is fine as is.