Calgary takes fight to ban Uber to the courts

Published: November 17, 2015

Updated: July 24, 2018

Author: Luke Jones

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While Uber is prominent in many Canadian cities, and in some (Toronto and Edmonton) motions have been set to regulate the service, places like Calgary are just getting acquainted with UberX.

The peer-to-peer drive sharing service has courted controversy wherever it goes and while the path of Uber in Calgary and indeed Canada seems ultimately inevitable, the city is ready to dig in and fight. The inevitability comes from the fact that Uber has resisted virtually all previous attempts to close its UberX service down and as it has economic benefits and appears to be in Canada to stay, governments are expected to eventually embrace and regulate it.

Regulation is the keyword as the quasi-taxi service currently operates in the country without regulation, essentially breaking the law, while operators of Uber vehicles are working without sufficient commercial auto insurance. Until any regulations are in place (close in Toronto, far away in Calgary) then Uber should not be operating in Canada.

Yet, the company is still here and nearly a month after warning consumers not to adopt the service, the City of Calgary is seeking a court issued order that stops UberX operatives working in the city. Those caught in violation of the potential injunction can be arrested by police, fined, and even placed in jail. The court application names 57 drivers, while also including “all other persons who operate as an Uber driver in the City of Calgary.”

The city wants a court declaration the drivers “are offering and operating their personal motor vehicles for hire or fee without a valid … licence.”

Those who breach the injunction “may be arrested by officers of the Calgary Police Service and brought before this court to show why they should not be cited in contempt,” the draft reads.

The city says it is pursuing the order because it is concerned that drivers do not understand that their personal auto insurance does not cover them. Without sufficient coverage they will not be covered by Uber’s own $5 million liability policy either, which stipulates that operatives must have valid commercial auto insurance to operate with the service. However, despite this stipulation, Uber still allows drivers to sign up with their personal policies.

In October the City of Calgary warned consumers to avoid using Uber vehicles, stating:

“The City advises citizens that there are risks associated with participating in private for-hire vehicle services such as Uber,” the city said in a statement. “These risks include the fact that the vehicles are not inspected by the City and the drivers are not licensed by the City. There is also a risk that drivers, passengers and any third party involved in an accident with one of these vehicles may not receive insurance coverage or may receive only limited coverage.”