Taxi drivers protest at Edmonton city hall

Shirts were ripped off and chaos reigned inside city hall Tuesday afternoon as Taxi drivers protested against Uber, the ride-booking company.

Drivers say city council taking shirts off their back

Edmonton taxi drivers take off their shirts in protest, saying the city is taking the shirts off their backs. 0:21

Shirts were ripped off and chaos reigned inside city hall Tuesday afternoon as Taxi drivers protested against Uber, the ride-booking company. 

They chanted saying allowing Uber to operate in the city is like removing the cap on the number of taxi plates. 

Some drivers removed their shirts, saying the city is taking the shirts off their backs. 

The protest shut down the city council meeting. Councillors were quickly ushered into a back room when the drivers began chanting, "shame on Uber, shame on the mayor, shame on his councillors."

At that stage police were called and could be seen inside and outside city hall. 

Edmonton taxi drivers erupted inside city hall on Tuesday in a protest against Uber. 1:54

Temporary city manager Linda Cochrane stepped in and, according to CBC reporter Laura Osman, helped restore order inside the council chamber. Shortly afterwards, the protestors quietened down, put their shirts back on and took their seats.

At the meeting councillors agreed to amend a bylaw allowing Uber to legally operate in Edmonton. The amendments, if approved, would make it cheaper for drivers to sign up for Uber.

Reaction from Uber

Statement from Ramit Kar, Uber General Manager for Alberta:

"While some clauses would prevent ridesharing from continuing in Edmonton, Uber remains committed to working with staff and council to build trust and find a path forward."

The changes would also mean Uber, as a company, would have to get a license to operate in Edmonton legally. Councillors will vote on the amendments in November. 

Councillors also requested a report to see whether Uber could self-regulate, for example allowing the company to do their own criminal record checks on their drivers. 

Meanwhile the Taxi industry vowed to continue fighting to keep Uber out.

"This is a disaster for the taxi industry," said Balraj Minhas, the spokesperson for the joint taxi committee against Uber.

"There will be a big meeting and industry will decide if they want to strike or how they are going to stop it," he said. 

with files from the CBC's Laura Osman