Hamilton is looking at legalizing Uber by creating a new licensing category for the ride-hailing service.

City staff will report back by March 30 on creating a new category for Uber and similar services. The idea, says Coun. Sam Merulla, is to create a "level playing field" between Uber and taxi drivers.

The move comes after the Edmonton became the first city in Canada to legalize Uber. Under the Edmonton law, taxi operators can charge equal rates to Uber, and Uber drivers have to get appropriate commercial insurance.

Merulla said that his motivation is fairness and public safety.

"I get that it's a cool thing to do," the Ward 4 councillor said at a city council meeting on Wednesday. "But just because it's cool doesn't mean it's in the best interest of the public."

​Like other cities in Canada, Hamilton has been grappling with how to handle Uber, from asking to meet with Uber officials to fining 21 local Uber drivers for driving without a taxi license.

Here's what else city council decided on Wednesday:

  • Council voted to sign a memorandum of agreement with Metrolinx over light-rail transit. The LRT line will run down King Street from McMaster University to the Queenston traffic circle, and from King Street to the waterfront.
  • Council voted for a motion from Coun. Chad Collins to establish a subcommittee to look at a list of city-owned properties that can be used for affordable housing.
  • Council ratified a decision to write to the province asking for about $820,000 more that it's needed to implement SAMS, a controversial computer program for handling social assistance cases.
  • Council voted to buy the Parkside Secondary School land, which is 1.66 hectares in Dundas. The city will demolish the school and use part of the land for a cemetery. A community group wanted to turn the school into affordable housing.
  • Coun. Lloyd Ferguson successfully moved looking at making ice rescue the responsibility of Hamilton's fire department, rather than the police service.

CBC Hamilton reporter Samantha Craggs tweets live from city council meetings. It starts at 5 p.m. Read her tweets at @SamCraggsCBC or in the window below.