By Rob Shaw, Vancouver Sun
VICTORIA — British Columbians will get their first glimpse at a possible future for ride-booking service Uber in September, when the government says it will unveil a discussion paper.
Peter Fassbender, the cabinet minister who is reviewing whether to allow Uber to operate in B.C., said Wednesday the government is almost finished gathering comment from the public, taxi industry, insurance industry and Uber.
“We will be putting out a discussion document that will highlight what we’ve heard and what we think we should be looking at in the province of British Columbia to have a made-in-B.C. solution,” said Fassbender. Public safety, fair treatment for the conventional taxi industry and insurance concerns will be addressed, he said.
The intent is to make the Liberal government’s plan clear before the May 2017 provincial election, said Fassbender.
Uber, and similar outfits such as Lyft, operate on-demand car services that connect passengers with private drivers, usually through apps on smartphones.
“We’ll be asking for further input, then minister (Todd) Stone, who is the minister responsible for the legislative framework and the regulations will then be bringing forward to cabinet and government where we should be going,” said Fassbender.
Uber has been strongly lobbying government to draft regulations that would allow its drivers to obtain special licences and be considered differently from traditional taxis. The government at first warned Uber from trying to circumvent the rules, but later softened its criticism and said it believes taxi and ride-booking services can coexist and that it’s inevitable new technology like Uber will eventually enter the province.
The Opposition NDP has pledged to back the taxi industry, which has warned about job losses and disruption in the traditional taxi industry.