Kater suspends Vancouver operation and says it's "switching to our full-scale ride-hailing operations"

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      Vancouver's first ride-hailing app has been put on the shelf—at least temporarily.

      But the Vancouver-based Kater Technologies Inc. promises that it's going to come back bigger and better in the future.

      "Kater has stopped operating its current hybrid fleet of cars and has started the process of switching to our full-scale ride-hailing operations, launching in their very near future," the company states on its website. "Stay tuned Vancouver. Ride-hail here we come. See you all in a few weeks' time."

      Kater didn't elaborate beyond that.

      Last spring, Kater put 140 vehicles on the road in partnership with the Vancouver Taxi Association. The company relies on a locally created app.

      In June, Kater launched a karaoke service in two vehicles called Kateroke.

      The announcement by Kater that it's suspending its Vancouver ride-hailing service comes as U.S.-based ride-hailing giants Uber and Lyft are seeking operating licences from the Passenger Transportation Board.

      But Uber and Lyft are facing a challenge from organized labour.

      Last week, the United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 1518 filed an application to the B.C. Labour Relations Board, alleging that ride-hailing company drivers are employees and not contractors.

      The union claims that designating drivers as contractors discourages them from launching a certification drive.