White Rock council has come out against current rules for ride-hailing companies in B.C.
Council voted Friday in favour of sending an emergency resolution to the Union of B.C. Municipalities in opposition to current B.C. licensing policies for ride-hailing companies such as Uber and Lyft.
The five-to-one vote took place at a special afternoon council session, necessitated by an unusually long agenda last week that was unfinished at the adjournment of Monday’s regular meeting. The single vote against came from Coun. David Chesney, while Coun. Anthony Manning was not at the meeting.
Supporting a claim that Passenger Transportation Board rules that came into effect Monday (Sept. 16) allow ride-hailing services to unfairly compete against existing taxi companies, White Rock has voted to submit “a late emergency resolution” opposing the board’s rules to the UBCM annual conference (Sept. 23-27) for debate and vote.
The resolution would also ask the UBCM to send a letter to the board asking for the rules to be withdrawn.
Under the resolution the city will write its own letter to the board calling for withdrawal of the rules, and also to ask that the board set up a consultation process in which cities, municipalities, regional districts, public transit agencies and disabled advocacy organizations – as well as the general public – weigh in on what restrictions and regulations should apply to ride-hailing companies.
The resolution was suggested by city resident Roderick Louis, who also submitted similar resolutions to Richmond and Delta councils.
Richmond has voted in favour of sending its own list of requirements to the board to even the playing field between ride-hailing services and taxi companies, while Delta was to debate on Monday a motion from Coun. Lois Jackson that it send a letter to the board to ask for suspension of the rules and submit a resolution on the ride-hailing issue to the UBCM.
Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum has already announced his belief that Surrey should not grant business licences to ride-hailing companies.
The White Rock resolution notes that under the newly-established rules ride-hailing services don’t have to abide by the same rules, regulations and restrictions that taxi companies do. It says that the companies can operate an unlimited number of vehicles, without any of them having to be accessible vehicles capable of accommodating wheelchairs or mobility-impaired individuals as taxi companies must.
In material submitted to the councils by Louis – who is currently urging White Rock, Richmond and Delta to co-ordinate their calls for changes to the rules – he said that U.S. experiences with ride-hailing services suggest that B.C. would do well to impose stringent restrictions on ride-hailing services.
He notes that perceived exploitation of Uber and Lyft drivers in the U.S. has led to the organization of drivers’ unions and associations in multiple jurisdictions, and warns that ride-hailing companies operating in B.C. should provide drivers with the same rights and benefits as other employees – or run the risk of costly political action, protests, strikes and lawsuits forcing B.C. to enact protective legislation like California’s AB5.
“These companies are also losing billions of dollars in the U.S.,” he told Peace Arch News. “Why would we make the same mistakes here?”