Toronto council calls for UberX crackdow
Toronto Sun July 9, 2015 Don Peat
Councillor Frank Di Giorgio got council Wednesday to urge Toronto Police and city licensing staff to launch a crackdown on drivers, such as UberX drivers, who don’t have a city-issued taxi or limo licence, to create a level playing field, along with approving a review of Uber and the taxi industry.
“The reality is notwithstanding whatever legal decision came down the pipe …there are unlicensed vehicles — I don’t know what they’re charging, they’re not subject to the fares,” Di Giorgio told council.
The vote comes just days after the city lost its bid to get a court injunction against Uber and after Mayor John Tory’s call for a review of the city’s rules to create one bylaw for both taxis and emerging ride-sharing technologies like Uber.
Councillors unanimously approved Di Giorgio’s request for licensing and standards staff to “enforce all applicable city bylaws in respect to unlicensed drivers who transport passengers in a motor vehicle for compensation.”
In a 35-2 vote, council also asked the Toronto Police Services Board to ask the Chief of Police to “enforce the Highway Traffic Act, city bylaws and all other applicable laws in respect to unlicensed drivers who transport passengers in a motor vehicle for compensation.”
Tory and Councillor Frances Nunziata were the two votes against the request to the police board.
“I happen to know that the police are incredibly stretched right now even in terms of filling the assignments they have to fill to look after Pan Am,” Tory said. “I thought it was appropriate that we should say, ‘Yes, get on with getting our own bylaw people out there to enforce the law … but the police, I think, have their hands absolutely full.”
He repeated his belief that Uber is “operating outside of the law” and it is time to get on with reforming the city’s taxi bylaw.
The city must create a new ground transportation bylaw that is “fair to all competitors,” Tory said.
Councillor Jim Karygiannis — a vocal opponent of Uber — said he’s already asked to go on a ride-along with bylaw officers.
Uber Canada spokesman Susie Heath said the company looks forward to working Tory and council on a regulatory solution in Toronto.
“As we saw from the recent Ontario court ruling, Uber is a legitimate model operating legally and is a unique business that is distinct from taxi,” Heath said in response to council’s call for a crackdown.