Canada's sixth-largest city is making a move to regulate Uber, with Mississauga city council voting unanimously Wednesday to halt the ride-hailing company's operations in the city while council debates how to best deal with the service.
Councillors called the service part of an "underground economy," operating outside of the city's regulations.
"Businesses that operate in Mississauga must do so under our laws," said Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie in a statement. "Council made the responsible decision by voting to further review, study and engage community and industry stakeholders on how to proceed with revising the existing by-law ..."
- Uber acting 'above the law'
But many riders prefer the service, which offers a cheaper option for travel, and despite the vote, there's no guarantee Uber drivers will comply.
A report presented at the council meeting says ride-hailing companies continue to operate in the city unlicensed, with over 200 charges laid against drivers, vehicle owners and companies since the services began in Mississauga in the summer of 2012.
Toronto city council fought a similar battle last September, asking city staff to develop new rules to accommodate Uber in its taxi and limousine bylaws, with an added request that Uber cease operations until those rules are established.
But Uber has ignored that request and continues to operate.
Mayor John Tory asked for "a level playing field" between traditional cabs and Uber, which have fought a tense battle for customers since the ride hailing service launched.
In a report to Mississauga council, Uber argues it provides safe and reliable rides, and that proposed ideas don't recognize a different way of doing business.
"We've been working with officials in Mississauga and across Canada to update rules for ride sharing, just as we have in over 70 jurisdictions around the world," said Susie Heath, spokesperson for Uber Canada.
"We look forward to continuing our work with officials in Mississauga to modernize regulations to encourage innovation, put people first and create safe, reliable and affordable transportation options."
Uber also says having different rules in each GTA jurisdiction doesn't make sense, as over 100,000 Uber rides cross municipal boundaries each week.
"Innovation, technology, and growth are driving competition in an established industry," said Mayor Crombie in a statement. "The debate about how to regulate [Uber] is not going away and we need to get it right."
Mississauga council's public vehicle advisory committee will look at a staff report on Uber in April.