Uber appears to be ready to relaunch in Calgary
Company has sparred with the city, rejecting new bylaws crafted to govern ride-hailing services
There are new signs that Uber will soon re-enter the Calgary market.
City council passed a new bylaw last February which permits "transportation network companies" like Uber to operate in Calgary.
Uber, however, said it could not operate under the city's rules. The ride-hailing service said a $220 annual licensing fee for each of its drivers and the requirements for city police to do background checks on drivers were unworkable.
Negotiations between the city and Uber have continued since then.
Mayor Naheed Nenshi was recently asked if a deal was imminent. "Conversations continue. I remain optimistic," he said.
When pressed on when something might be announced, Nenshi only smiled and said: "Soonish."
There are signs a deal is in fact near.
A city source said an arrangement has been reached between Uber and the city but not yet finalized. No details are available.
A spokesman for Uber, Jean-Christophe de Le Rue, provided a statement to CBC News on the prospects of a deal. "Uber continues to have discussions with the City of Calgary in the hopes to serve Calgarian riders and drivers too."
However, Uber has started advertising a job for someone to oversee its technical operations and relaunch in Calgary.
The ad states the company is looking for an "Uber Expert" to help build its hub in Calgary. This would be a location where the part-time staff person would welcome new drivers, check their documentation and have their vehicles inspected.
More recently, ads for full-time and part-time drivers have appeared.
The resumption of service in Calgary would come after a rocky start.
The ride-hailing company launched in Calgary last October, but it was short-lived.
A judge granted the city's request for an injunction against Uber and ordered the company's drivers to stop picking up customers.
At that time, Uber insisted the city's bylaw regulating taxis and limousine services did not apply to it.
Although the city did revise its bylaw to allow Uber and other ride-hailing services like TappCar to operate, Uber hasn't returned given its dissatisfaction with the new rules.
Some choice words
The mayor's office has been overseeing the talks but it's been turbulent.
In April, a Periscope video emerged of Nenshi using a ride-hailing service during a visit to Boston. In the video, he made disparaging remarks about Uber.
"Uber — there is no polite way of saying this — has a brilliant business model and are dicks," said the mayor to the man driving the car.
"They are honestly the worst people in the world. I have never dealt with people like this before," said Nenshi.
He also criticized the company's screening of drivers and said the city had used people with criminal records to test the process.
Nenshi later apologized for the remarks, which city council asked the integrity commissioner to examine. A report from the commissioner is expected soon.
The provincial government recently removed a hurdle for Uber's operations in Alberta, approving new insurance rules for ride-hailing services last month.
Under provincial law, drivers must not have a criminal record, must obtain a Class 1, 2 or 4 license and have proper insurance.
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