Uber ups pressure on B.C. government

Fassbender says province won't be stampeded in its 'careful' review of possible sharing economy reforms

Uber's ride-matching app doesn't yet work in B.C. but 225

Uber's ride-matching app doesn't yet work in B.C. but 225

Uber is intensifying its pressure on the B.C. government to plow past taxi industry objections and allow it to launch its ride-hailing service in B.C. cities.

The U.S. firm bought radio ads this week highlighting long waits for taxis in Metro Vancouver suburbs and released an open letter to the premier urging the province to “embrace the future and act on ride-sharing this spring.”

It comes after Communities Minister Peter Fassbender in January pledged careful consultations on the issue – particularly with taxi firms – before developing a made-in-B.C. solution that would preserve some role for traditional taxis.

Uber Canada general manager Ian Black said in the letter to Christy Clark that 100,000 B.C. residents and another 125,000 tourists opened the Uber app in B.C. last year to try to use the service.

He argued the ride-hailing industry would let thousands of people earn money on their own schedule driving their own cars, while reducing drunk driving through more reliable late-night transportation and expanding the reach of transit networks.

Uber also added a “future view” to its app for residents in Metro Vancouver, Victoria and Kelowna to project how quickly an Uber car could arrive and what fare it would charge if B.C.’s policy changed.

Fassbender says he won’t be stampeded.

“It is not changing our direction and position that we’re going to do it carefully and wisely,” he said in an interview.

Fassbender said the province’s main goal is to give consumers choice, while ensuring their safety through regulations and mandatory insurance.

“Our second objective is to make sure we respect the taxi industry and the investments they’ve made in their families and in their communities so whatever we do is as close to a level playing field as it can be.”

While Uber is the most urgent issue, Fassbender’s review is also to examine other “sharing economy” issues, such as the rise of unregulated vacation rental service Airbnb.

“Clearly there is increasing pressure as a result of some of the things that have been happening in communities like Vancouver that Airbnb is being talked about more, as well as its effect on the availability of housing and the cost of housing,” Fassbender said.

He is to meet with Metro Vancouver’s board to discuss the review Friday morning.

Uber halted service in Edmonton after the city council there passed restrictive bylaws, which allow only conventional taxis to be hailed from the street, not Uber drivers.

B.C. Taxi Association president Mohan Kang called Uber’s tactics a gimmick.

“I’m not surprised,” he said. “They should be making sure they can address the public safety issue, including having adequate insurance, having training, looking after people with disabilities and seniors.”

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

Just Posted

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders sits in on a COVID-19 briefing with Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer, and Adrian Dix, B.C. minister of health. (Birinder Narang/Twitter)
PHOTOS: Bernie Sanders visits B.C. landmarks through the magic of photo editing

Residents jump on viral trend of photoshopping U.S. senator into images

Victoria Hospice staff Brianne Ohl, left, Angela Chalmers, right, and Sandi Ogloff, at back, show off their buttons that show a picture of them smiling. Staff has worked hard to maintain the connections with patients despite the barriers of PPE and rigid COVID-19 protocols. (Victoria Hospice Photo)
Hospice provides compassion in a time of COVID

Victoria Hospice 40th anniversary on pause during pandemic

Look for the Random Act of Kindness Day colouring contest in Black Press issues Jan. 17. Physical entries can be mailed or dropped off to local Black Press offices. A scanned or photographed entry can be emailed to info@victoriafoundation.bc.ca. Winning entries can get a $50 gift card to Bolen Books and a $100 donation to a charity of their choice from the VIctoria Foundation. (Pixabay)
Colouring contest coming for Kindness Day

Kindness Day colouring contest in partnership with Victoria Foundation

Sidney has moved the remaining parts of its public consultation phase part of the Official Community Plan online. (Black Press Media File)
Sidney moves to an ‘all online engagement’ process for OCP

Staff says OCP charrette scheduled for mid-February

(File photo)
‘Very lucky’: Two passengers, dog escape rollover crash in Saanich unscathed

Vehicle flips on Trans Canada Highway after hitting median, possibly due to ice, firefighter says

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders sits in on a COVID-19 briefing with Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer, and Adrian Dix, B.C. minister of health. (Birinder Narang/Twitter)
PHOTOS: Bernie Sanders visits B.C. landmarks through the magic of photo editing

Residents jump on viral trend of photoshopping U.S. senator into images

Nanaimo Regional General Hospital. (News Bulletin file photo)
COVID-19 outbreak declared at Nanaimo hospital

Two staff members and one patient have tested positive, all on the same floor

A long-term care worker receives the Pfizer vaccine at a clinic in Nanaimo earlier this month. (Island Health photo)
All Island seniors in long-term care will be vaccinated by the end of this weekend

Immunization of high-risk population will continue over the next two months

A 75-year-old aircraft has been languishing in a parking lot on the campus of the University of the Fraser Valley, but will soon be moved to the B.C. Aviation Museum. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Vintage military aircraft moving from Chilliwack to new home at B.C. Aviation Museum

The challenging move to Vancouver Island will be documented by Discovery Channel film crews

A video posted to social media by Chilliwack resident Rob Iezzi shows a teenager getting kicked in the face after being approached by three suspects on Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (YouTube/Rob i)
VIDEO: Security cameras capture ‘just one more assault’ near B.C. high school

Third high-school related assault captured by Chilliwack resident’s cameras since beginning of 2021

FILE - In this Feb. 14, 2017, file photo, Oklahoma State Rep. Justin Humphrey prepares to speak at the State Capitol in Oklahoma City. A mythical, ape-like creature that has captured the imagination of adventurers for decades has now become the target of Rep. Justin Humphrey. Humphrey, a Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season, He says issuing a state hunting license and tag could help boost tourism. (Steve Gooch/The Oklahoman via AP, File)
Oklahoma lawmaker proposes ‘Bigfoot’ hunting season

A Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season

Economic Development and Official Languages Minister Melanie Joly responds to a question in the House of Commons Monday November 23, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Federal minister touts need for new B.C. economic development agency

Last December’s federal economic update promised a stimulus package of about $100 billion this year

FILE - In this Nov. 20, 2017, file photo, Larry King attends the 45th International Emmy Awards at the New York Hilton, in New York. Former CNN talk show host King has been hospitalized with COVID-19 for more than a week, the news channel reported Saturday, Jan. 2, 2021. CNN reported the 87-year-old King contracted the coronavirus and was undergoing treatment at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. (Photo by Andy Kropa/Invision/AP, File)
Larry King, broadcasting giant for half-century, dies at 87

King conducted an estimated 50,000 on-air interviews

Comox Valley RCMP are looking for witnesses after the theft of a generator worth thousands of dollars. Photo supplied
RCMP asking Vancouver Island residents to watch for stolen generator

Vehicle may have been travelling on Highway 19

Most Read