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

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

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

Ride-hailing company trying to ‘defend its right’ to operate in Surrey

Uber is preparing to take legal action against the City of Surrey to “defend the right to access Uber’s apps” in this city despite what Mayor Doug McCallum says.

“Uber has filed for an injunction with the Supreme Court of British Columbia to stop the City of Surrey from issuing illegal tickets,” Michael van Hemmen, Uber’s Head of Western Canada, revealed in a press statement Tuesday. “The city’s actions are unfair to local residents who want to earn money and support their families, It is also unfair to those who need a safe, affordable and reliable ride.”

He said the injunction being sought is based on two key points: The first is the City of Surrey doesn’t have the authority to prevent Uber and similar companies from operating here, and the second is that McCallum has publicly stated that even if there was a Transportation Network Service business licence – which there is not – the city will not issue a business licence to a ridesharing company.

On Monday McCallum told reporters 18 warnings had been issued to Uber drivers to desist. “For those who continue to operate in Surrey,” McCallum said during a press conference at city hall, “there will no longer be any warning tickets and any violators caught will be ticketed and face a fine of $500.”

The mayor argues that taxi drivers are also trying to support their families and need a “level playing field” with ride-hailing services.

A Tuesday press release from the ride-hailing company, which is locking horns with McCallum over its right to do business in Surrey, said the Uber app “will continue to be available to the residents and visitors of Surrey” within its service area.

“It is highly unfortunate that the mayor is threatening drivers with fines that have no legal basis,” Uber’s statement reads. It notes that Premier John Horgan and Transporation Minister Claire Trevena have been “very clear that municipalities do not have the authority to prevent ridesharing companies from operating.”

READ ALSO: Surrey bylaws’ tactics with Uber drivers deemed ‘entrapment’ and ‘completely wrong’

McCallum came out swinging Monday afternoon, calling a presser to outline the city’s position on Uber operating here without a business licence, to which Uber maintains there is no licence it “could apply for or obtain.”

According to provincial law, Uber notes, “ridesharing is not taxi.”

“Uber is supportive of the Inter-Municipal Business Licence,” its statement reads, “and looks forward to obtaining an IMBL when it becomes available.”

McCallum has positioned himself as the champion of the cab industry. He told reporters the taxi industry faces a cap of 2,500 cabs in Metro Vancouver while ride hailing companies face no caps.

“That’s not fair,” McCallum said. “There’s no level playing field.”

He said Uber and other ride-hailing operations “can apply for the same licence taxis apply for.

“There is an option to do that.”

“All we want is a level playing field, and then we welcome ride hailing on an equal basis,” McCallum said. “It’s free enterprise.”

On Monday night, Councillor Linda Annis presented a notice of motion instructing city staff to prepare a report on ride hailing for council’s next meeting, “with some recommendations.”

McCallum said the city doesn’t want to end up in court over this. “From Surrey’s point of view, we will not be doing any court challenges of it, but we will defend our right to make sure that in our highly regulated industry the people that are involved, the corporations that are involved, are given the same level playing field.”

On Tuesday, again at city hall, McCallum was once again peppered with questions on ride hailing, such as his response to Uber’s threat of legal action.

“I think we always received threats of legal action on a lot of tickets that our bylaw officers do,” he said. “That’s what all cities have.”

“No, I have no concerns,” he told a reporter who asked about Uber’s threat. “Council just went over, probably over 150 lawsuits, on Monday, or I don’t say lawsuits but legal things against us. Big cities have those things. In fact Surrey has probably fewer than a lot of big cities, we’re the 12th largest in Canada. We get lawsuits all the time.”

Meantime, David Clement, North American affairs manager for the Consumer Choice Center, which represents consumers in more than 100 countries, says going after Uber drivers “does nothing but hurt consumer choice and put public safety at risk.

“We know from peer-reviewed research that for every month ride sharing is legal, impaired driving arrests decline by eight per cent,” Clement said. “Mayor McCallum may say that he is trying to protect community safety, but the reality is that he is just trying to protect the taxi industry from competition. This is cronyism on full display.”

Bob Bose, who served as Surrey’s mayor from 1988 until 1996, when he was defeated by McCallum, noted there has been no policy yet adopted by city council concerning the licensing of ride-hailing drivers and companies.

“The administration is acting, it would appear, solely on directives from the mayor’s office,” he said. “This is an important policy issue and staff should not be ticketing providers of the service without an established policy framework, that requires council approval.”



tom.zytaruk@surreynowleader.com

Like us on Facebook Follow us on Instagram and follow Tom on Twitter

SurreyUber

Just Posted

Doses of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine are seen being prepared on Wednesday, May 12, 2021, in Decatur, Ga. Hundreds of children, ages 12 to 15, received the Pfizer vaccine at the DeKalb Pediatric Center, just days after it was approved for use within their age group. (AP Photo/Ron Harris)
One death, 60 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

The death is connected to the outbreak at Spring Valley long-term care in Kelowna

The first Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine dose in Canada is prepared at The Michener Institute in Toronto on Monday, Dec. 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
One death, 39 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

There are 484 active cases of the virus in the region currently

Kelly Servinski, of the Tutti Hotel in Clinton, climbs above the river. (Photo credit: http://www.sterlinglorence.com/)
Gravel is the new gold: Cyclist bumps new biking trend

There’s gravel in them thar hills around Clinton

Amy Newman follows the route of the Cariboo Waggon Road — now Highway 97 — through Clinton. (Photo credit: New Pathways to Gold Society)
Grant received for Cariboo Waggon Road restoration project north of Clinton

New Pathways to Gold hopes to start work this summer on restoring sections of historic road

Dan Cumming (l, with Lisa Colwell, LPN) was one of 1,918 people who received their first COVID-19 vaccine at a community clinic in Ashcroft in early May. (Photo credit: Barbara Roden)
Vaccine clinics in Ashcroft, Clinton administered 2,664 first doses

Residents over the age of 18 are still eligible to receive their first COVID-19 vaccine

Prince Rupert was one of the first B.C. communities targeted for mass vaccination after a steep rise in infections. Grey area marks community-wide vaccine distribution. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. tracks big drop in COVID-19 infections after vaccination

Prince Rupert, Indigenous communities show improvement

Italian-Canadian prisoners at the Kananaskis prisoner of war camp in Alberta. (University of Calgary/Contributed)
Italian moved to Okanagan with hope; he ended up being sent to a WWII internment camp

Raymond Lenzi shares his grandfather’s story ahead of Canada’s planned formal apology to Italian-Canadians

Then-minister Rich Coleman, escorted by Victoria Police, makes his way to the east wing amid a protest blocking the legislature entrances before the throne speech in Victoria, B.C., Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. money laundering inquiry testimony ends today with reappearance of Rich Coleman

Responsible for the gaming file off and on from 2001 to 2013, Coleman been recalled after his initial testimony to the Cullen Commission last month

Colin Dowler rests in hospital recuperating from wounds suffered from a grizzly bear attack north of Campbell River. He was able to end the struggle by stabbing the bear in the neck with a knife like the one he is holding. Photo submitted
‘Bad-ass dude that took on a grizzly bear’ doesn’t let 2019 B.C. attack bring him down

Campbell River’s Colin Dowler gets on with his life as his rehabilitation continues

A bullet hole is seen in the windshield of an RCMP vehicle approximately 4 km from Vancouver International Airport after a one person was killed during a shooting outside the international departures terminal at the airport in Richmond, B.C. on Sunday, May 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Meeting police chance to get sense of ‘frustrating’ gang violence situation: minister

Mike Farnworth met with police representatives Thursday following a recent spate of shootings

Arrowsmith Search and Rescue manager Ken Neden, as he goes over the events of the Qualicum Falls river rescue on Dec. 12, 2020, for a United Kingdom television program “Unbelievable Moments Caught on Camera’. (Mandy Moraes photo)
TV show spreading news of daring B.C. river rescue across the world

Arrowsmith SAR trio share their accounts for ‘Unbelievable Moments Caught on Camera’

Shane Ertmoed’s application for Escorted Temporary Absences was granted following a hearing May 4, 2021. (File photo)
B.C. child-killer an ‘average’ risk to sexually reoffend: Parole Board

Written reasons behind approval of Shane Ertmoed’s request for escorted absences shared

The bodies of Carlo and Erick Fryer were discovered by a local couple walking on a remote forest road in Naramata on May 10. (Submitted)
Kamloops brothers identified as pair found dead near Penticton

The bodies of Carlo and Erick Fryer were discovered by a local couple walking

Municipal governments around B.C. have emergency authority to conduct meetings online, use mail voting and spend reserve funds on operation expenses. (Penticton Western News)
Online council meetings, mail-in voting option to be extended in B.C.

Proposed law makes municipal COVID-19 exceptions permanent

Most Read