Vancouver city council refuses to give a green light to Uber

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      Vancouver city council has unanimously approved a staff recommendation to urge the Ministry of Transportation and other stakeholders to provide "a renewed policy direction" in connection with ride-sharing technology.

      But the politicians stopped short of approving Uber's ride-sharing app within city limits.

      The vote came after Mayor Gregor Robertson and some councillors grilled Uber spokesperson Michael van Hemmen, who had come to speak about a staff report on amendments to the city's vehicle for hire regulations.

      At one point in the meeting, Coun. Geoff Meggs asked van Hemmen point blank if his company would adhere to provincial regulations.

      Uber has consistently maintained that it's not a taxi company, but a ride-sharing app, so it doesn't need to be regulated in the same manner.

      It's a position that was recently upheld in Ontario Superior Court.

      A staff report that went to council noted that ride-sharing "poses both opportunities and concerns for regulators."

      "On one hand, rideshare companies represent a leap forward in taxi supply and service," the report states.

      On the other hand, the report notes, "rideshare raises significant concerns about passenger safety, future taxi industry viability, and the availability of accessible services to disabled persons".

      Council's vote not only asked the province to take steps to offer policy direction, but also requested that the Passenger Transportation Board, Vancouver International Airport, TransLink, and the taxi industry also participate.

      In addition, council voted unanimously to extend the moratorium the temporary moratorium on new taxi licences for 12 months. 

      Council did approve various other measures, including:

      • as a condition of licensing, requiring taxi drivers to pass a training program that teaches skills on how to transport passengers with disabilities;

      * and requiring taxi drivers to assist passengers with entering the taxi and loading and unloading their belongings.