Edmonton mayor suggests other Canadian cities follow Uber legalization lead

Published: January 29, 2016

Updated: July 24, 2018

Author: Luke Jones

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Edmonton became the first Canadian municipality to vote to legalize the UberX service yesterday, and now the mayor of the city is urging other regions to get their own houses in order. Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson said other jurisdictions need to lay out their own rules to let Uber operate, because the company is going to do so regardless.

He also urged all cities to group together to form a uniform method that means they are not dictated to by Uber, a $40 billion company from the United States.

Edmonton reached an historic verdict yesterday, agreeing to make Uber legal from March 1 if certain criteria are met by the company. The criteria includes drivers having auto insurance (the main stumbling block now), the company agreeing to the set $3.25 minimum fare, and the company agreeing to pay $70,000 per year to operate in the city.

It is thought Uber has agreed to all the stipulations in place, itself something of a new tactic from a company that has often been at odds with authorities on a municipal and provincial level since debuting in Canada in 2014. The San Francisco ride-sharing giant has said recently that it wants to work with local governments to be able to work legally in the country.

There is currently some tense standoffs around Canada, with British Columbia currently seeing a fierce debate between the government and Uber, with the company disagreeing with plans laid out by the province to regulate the UberX service. In other cities, such as Toronto, the doors are opening for Uber, especially since Aviva Canada confirmed this month that it will launch a ride-sharing specific auto insurance policy in Ontario.

The Edmonton city council says that the new bylaw means Uber can operate in the city, but drivers working for the service cannot use taxi stands, and only official taxis can be hailed on streets by consumers. Drivers found operating without an appropriate license or auto insurance can be fined $5,000.

Taxi drivers have been outraged by the bylaw, but in a statement, Edmonton’s mayor offered a suggestion to the taxi sector: “My hope is that taxi companies will use this opportunity to rewrite their marketing plans and really, truly invest in the kind of technology needed to compete. Because they can.”