Mayor Doug McCallum threatens $500 fine for Uber drivers caught in Surrey

Jan 27 2020, 4:49 pm

After Surrey bylaw offices reportedly ticketed an Uber driver for operating in the city over the weekend – citing the fact the city has not granted any ride-hailing companies municipal business licences as the reason behind their actions – Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum doubled down on his position Monday afternoon.

“Ride-hailing companies have been approved to operate by the Passenger Transportation Board (PTB) in Metro Vancouver, but the fact is that a business licence is required to operate in Surrey – or any other municipality,” he said. “Until that happens, Uber is operating illegally in Surrey.”

McCallum’s comments follow a statement he made this past Friday in which he also said he opposed ride-hailing in his city’s boundaries.

“My chief concern is the unfair advantage that has been created without any regard as to how it will impact those who are employed in the taxi industry,” he said. “It is no secret that a large percentage of cab drivers live in Surrey and the modest wages they earn go to support their families. It is my duty to do what I can to ensure that these jobs are not lost due to an unfair advantage that has been arbitrarily put in place.”

However, the provincial government has previously said municipal authorities do not actually have any jurisdiction on where and how ride-hailing companies can operate, as this is solely regulated at the provincial level by the Passenger Transportation Board (PTB).

In a previous statement to Daily Hive, the BC Ministry of Transportation said municipalities certainly have the ability to require business licenses, but this would contravene overriding provincial law that “restricts the authority of municipalities to regulate the supply and boundaries of taxis and ride-hail services.”

Essentially, this means that only the PTB “is authorized to establish supply and boundaries for these services.”

Still McCallum kept up his tough stance on Monday, even speaking about the reported incident over the weekend, in which he said a ticket was issued for non-compliance.

“I felt that was only fair to give them an opportunity to comply,” he said. “For those who continue to operate in Surrey, there will no longer be warning tickets, and any violators caught will be ticketed and face a fine of $500.”

In response to the mayor’s position, Uber’s Michael van Hemmen told Daily Hive in a statement that the company does “not believe there is any legal basis for drivers to be fined” by the City of Surrey.

“Premier [John] Horgan has been clear that municipalities do not have the authority to prevent ridesharing companies from operating,” said van Hemmen. “Uber and drivers have all the required approvals from the provincial government and the Passenger Transportation Board to operate in Metro Vancouver.”

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