Calgary bylaw could have been tweaked to retain Uber, says councillor

Coun. Evan Woolley says Calgary city council came close to creating a bylaw that would be workable for Uber, but fell just short of the mark in Monday's vote.

Evan Woolley the only councillor to vote against bylaw

Ward 8 Coun. Evan Woolley was the only councillor to vote against Calgary's ride-hailing bylaw on Monday. (CBC)

Coun. Evan Woolley says Calgary city council came close to creating a bylaw that would be workable for Uber, but fell just short of the mark in Monday's vote. 

Council voted 14-1 in favour of a new bylaw Monday that opens the door for ride-hailing services. Woolley was the only councillor who voted against it.

"I think the regulation changes and the new bylaw gets us 90 per cent there," Woolley said Tuesday. "There were a couple of really critical touch points and I made attempts to amend the bylaw and deal with those and it didn't pass."

Following the vote, Uber's general manager for Alberta, Ramit Kar, called it a "really unfortunate day" for drivers and riders in the city, and reiterated the company's position that it cannot operate under the bylaw. 

Woolley said the bylaw places too many restrictions on ride-hailing companies. He proposed amendments calling on the city staff to meet with Uber and come back with recommendations to tweak the licensing fee schedule and vehicle maintenance requirements but was voted down.

"It doesn't matter what bylaws we put in place, if drivers don't sign up to be a driver or to use this system, it doesn't matter," Woolley said. "If the barriers are too great then people won't join."

He doesn't think Uber is going to pack up and leave Calgary, and said he expects the company will come back to the table. But Woolley added that if Uber does choose not to return to the city, then Calgary will have missed a "massive opportunity."

"We could have done better," he said.

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