Uber launches campaign to gather public support ahead of Ottawa city vote
Uber Canada is launching a campaign to gain public support as Ottawa city council prepares for a vote on ride-booking services on April 13.
The company has been operating in Ottawa since October 2014 and says it wants Ottawa's citizens to share their stories about the service.
It has set up the website to supportuberYOW.com to collect the comments. Supporters are also encouraged to sign a petition on this site that Uber will send to Ottawa city council.
In a new video Uber Canada’s General Manager, Ian Black, is calling on Ottawans to rally behind the ride sharing program.
“So contact your councillor with an email, a tweet, or a call and let them know why our nation’s capital should support ride sharing,” Black said in the video.
Ottawa is one of several cities where the city council has grappled with complaints that drivers using the Uber ride-hailing technology have an unfair advantage over the conventional taxi industry, which is heavily regulated.
The President of Ottawa’s taxi dispatching company, Coventry Connections, said he welcomes the competition so long as all companies all operation on the same playing field.
“The city needs to licence them in as way where they are all recognized and they have the qualifications and they are checking, just like taxi, and the city needs to look at their vehicles and inspect those vehicles,” said Hanif Patni.
In February, Ontario's insurance regulator approved coverage for drivers using ride-hailing services such as Uber.
Black wants Ottawa to set up a separate category for all ride-sharing companies called ‘Transportation Network Company.” According to documents Uber has already made this suggestion in Toronto.
Black said ride-sharing companies, like Uber, could apply for licensing through TNC and it would require things like background checks, vehicle inspections and insurance regulations.
City staff has put together a set of recommendations on taxi regulations in Ottawa. It will go to the Community & Protective Services Committee Thursday.
“We expect a lot of discussion at the committee and in the days that follow and I believe that coming out of this that the city of Ottawa can be a leader in the future of this industry,” said councillor Diane Deans.
With files from the Canadian Press