Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum says he has “no concerns” over Uber’s threat of legal action against the city. (Photos: Now-Leader/Flickr) Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum says he has “no concerns” over Uber’s threat of legal action against the city. (Photos: Now-Leader/Flickr)

McCallum says IMBL a ‘major step forward’ in fixing ‘unfair advantage’ over taxis

Surrey mayor says he hasn’t budged from quest for level playing field

Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum says the proposed ride-hailing Inter-Municipal Business Licence (IMBL) agreement released by the Mayors’ Council of Regional Transportation on Friday “takes a major step forward” to address what he says is an “unfair advantage” ride-hailing companies have over taxi companies.

“I have not budged from my position that a level playing field must be in place for ride-hailing and taxi companies to compete in,” he reiterated in a press statement issued Friday by city hall. “My fight is about ensuring fair competition in a highly regulated industry. The IMBL approved by the Mayors’ Council today levels the playing field and it has my support. I now urge the province and the Passenger Transportation Board to do their part to establish equity for those employed in the vehicle for hire industry by reviewing taxi boundaries, fleet caps, insurance requirements, and ensuring ride-hailing vehicles provide accessible services for customers of all abilities.”

The Mayor’s Council is urging civic governments to start adopting this proposed bylaw as soon as possible. According to a TransLink press release, it provides a single set of requirements for participants. Under the IMBL, ride-hailing companies will be able to get one operating licence instead of separate business licences for each city or municipality, “which could become administratively onerous and expensive.”

READ ALSO: Uber wants court to stop Surrey ‘from issuing illegal tickets’

Asked Friday if the city will be continuing to fine Uber drivers operating in Surrey, McCallum said, “I’m not going to answer that question.” He did not return a request for comment Monday. Oliver Lum, the City of Surrey’s communications manager, was asked the same question on Monday, and replied, “This matter is before the courts and there will be no further comment.”

Last week Michael van Hemmen, Uber’s head of Western Canada, revealed that Uber had filed for an injunction with the Supreme Court of British Columbia “to stop the City of Surrey from issuing illegal tickets.”

“The city’s actions are unfair to local residents who want to earn money and support their families,” he said. “It is also unfair to those who need a safe, affordable and reliable ride.”

The court is expected to hear arguments Wednesday, Feb. 5.

Meantime, New Westminster Mayor Jonathon Coté, chairman of the Mayors’ Council, said the development of this IMBL “has demonstrated how our region can work collaboratively together.”

The IMBL would see ride-hailing companies pay a $155 yearly per-company fee and an additional $150 charge for each vehicle. This per-vehicle fee, however, will be waived for those that are wheelchair accessible, and be $30 for vehicles with no emissions. The City of Vancouver will administer the interim IMBL, and collect fees and trip data that will be shared with participating cities and municipalities each month.

Sophia Cote, Western Canada public policy manager for Lyft, said Friday her company is pleased the Mayors’ Council has agreed on the IMBL framework, “that will best serve the region’s residents and visitors.

“At Lyft, our mission is to improve people’s lives with the world’s best transportation, and we are optimistic that this draft bylaw will allow us to offer riders and drivers a more seamless transportation experience that reflects how people travel within the region,” she said.

“We are committed to continuing conversations with all participating municipalities so that we can see the IMBL come into effect, and will work with all relevant stakeholders to ensure the long-term regional approach best serves the needs of the region’s residents and visitors.”



tom.zytaruk@surreynowleader.com

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