Uber protest brings Edmonton debate to standstill

Published: January 27, 2016

Updated: July 24, 2018

Author: Luke Jones



The doors are opening for Uber in Edmonton and around Canada, but the city council meeting in which an Uber favorable bylaw is expected to be passed has seen its doors firmly shut. While Canada is warming to the UberX ride-sharing service, taxi drivers and their representatives remain ice cold and inevitable protests turned the city council meeting into a fracas.

The results of the meeting have not yet been offered and may not be known until tomorrow, but nevertheless it is expected Edmonton will be welcoming Uber legally. The chambers were locked down on Tuesday when the debate was started and a similar situation emerged on Wednesday when the debate reconvened. The city council is voting to legalize UberX in the city, which would be the first pro Uber vote of its kind, although Toronto has already voted to regulate the service.

Taxi drivers have been fierce enemies of Uber as they see the rival as a real threat to their very way of life. On Tuesday, the public were in the chamber as normal, but 150 taxi drivers rose to their feet shouting “shame, shame, shame” and refused to leave the chamber. As a result, all public was expelled for the duration of the debate.

Consumers have always, for the most part at least, been in favor of the UberX service. However, local governments largely fought the expansion of the company, a U.S. invader worth $40 billion and causing controversy all over the world, in Canadian cities.

However, in recent months the reasons to keep Uber out of municipalities have tumbled and authorities have had to change their stance. A prime example is the announcement by Aviva Canada that it will offer ride-sharing auto insurance policies, starting in February. The policy will eliminate one of the major obstacles facing Uber, the fact that its drivers currently operate without sufficient auto insurance coverage.

With the nation’s second largest insurance provider willing to back ride-sharing and local governments waking up to the economic boosts Uber could bring, the company is slowly being accepted. That will probably make unhappy reading for taxi drivers, who will almost certainly continue to be fierce critics of the UberX service.