Kelowna city councillor Ryan Donn says ride-sharing legislation introduced by the province this week will effectively prevent companies like Uber and Lyft from operating in the Okanagan.
Donn, a long-time proponent of ride sharing, says requiring drivers to obtain a commercial Class 4 licence is a barrier the big companies won’t be able to work around in smaller communities like those within the Okanagan.
He says a representative of Uber told him as much at the recent Federation of Canadian Municipalities convention in Quebec City.
“Uber has a level of service they want to have,” he said.
“They want to have enough drivers, so when you click on the App, they have enough drivers close to your area that the supply works so you don’t have to wait 20 minutes for a ride hailing. That’s what you do for a taxi right now.”
A Class 4 licence would allow drivers to operate buses with a capacity up to 25 people, taxis, limousines and ambulances.
In announcing the licence restriction, the province cited the need for safety.
“It doesn’t add safety,” Donn said. “It just adds layers on the test and the vehicle. The safety argument is get people a safe ride home.
“Literally, people are dying because they can’t get a safe ride home. There are drunk drivers on the streets, and it’s frustrating. Responsible people can’t get home.”
Donn says the province didn’t listen to the Vancouver Police Department, who said a universal Class 5 licence is fine, or MADD, who told the government to get the service going and not worry about licence classes.
For a province that claims to be tech-friendly, Donn says it’s frustrating B.C. is one of the last places without ride sharing, and for much of the province that may continue indefinitely.
“What happened to a Made in B.C. solution? People arrive at our airport looking for an option,” Donn said. “What do you mean you don’t have Uber? It’s embarrassing. We talk about being tech friendly, but Uber, we don’t have that. How tech friendly is that.”
It’s a joke, he said.
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