Uber given rough ride by Saanich

Council writing minister to request a provincial review of the ride-sourcing economy

If Uber’s hoping to pry into the Lower Island market, it can expect to have a tough time in Saanich.

Council voted 8-1 to write a letter to Translink Minister Peter Fassbender, who is responsible for consultations on Uber,  in support of a provincial review of the ride-sourcing economy.

Coun. Fred Haynes brought a report to council on Uber and the shared economy, suggesting Uber is welcome only if they are regulated the proper way, fair and balanced, adhering to the same regulations as taxis do.

The argument came down to protecting the longstanding taxi driving community in Saanich, who keep their profits here.

“Uber, as it is, is theft, it’s the stealing of business by using an advanced technology without adhering to the same rules,” Haynes said. “They also take 25 per cent of their profit out of the community. Taxis don’t do that.”

Taxis, Haynes pointed out, are also forward thinking in that they’ve embraced hybrid cars as well as anyone else.

“Last year B.C. technology leaders said we’re behind by not allowing Uber, but they got it wrong, we’re ahead by not having Uber,” he said.

Saanich resident Rishi Sharma spoke on behalf of friends and family who work in the taxi industry and live on Tyndall, Gordon Head and Wilkinson roads.

“These are longstanding community members paying taxes. If there’s an opportunity to allow them to be the members of the community that they are, please allow them to do it,” Sharma said.

B.C. Taxi Association president Mohan Singh Kang also spoke about ride-sourcing and the B.C. taxi industry’s response to Uber.

“We installed in-car cameras for driver safety, we have hybrid cars, and we have created the e-Cab app for phones,” he said.