British Columbia

B.C. Green legislation seeks green light for ride hailing

B.C. Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver has made a third attempt at legislation that would allow companies like Uber and Lyft to operate in the province.

'The public wants it': Andrew Weaver says of long debate over opening up transportation options in B.C.

Uber Canada hopes another attempt at legislation by the B.C. Greens will allow it to set up shop in the province sooner rather than later. (Seth Wenig/Associated Press)

The leader of the B.C. Greens has made a third attempt at legislation that would allow ride-hailing companies such as Uber and Lyft to operate in the province.

Andrew Weaver introduced his Ridesharing Enabling Act in the legislature on Thursday. He had previously introduced the bill twice under the B.C. Liberal government.

"I'm hoping that government will see the wisdom in actually debating this publicly, because the public wants it," Weaver said.

"B.C. cannot be a leader in the creative economy, unless it addresses emerging technologies head-on. Vancouver is the largest city in North America to not regulate this industry."

Insurance issues addressed, Weaver says

The third version of the bill has also been improved and includes language that would allow ICBC to develop an insurance regime for ride hailing, Weaver said.

The pressure from the Greens comes just a few days after the minister of transportation hit the brakes on the NDP campaign promise to bring ride hailing to B.C. by the end of 2017.

Claire Trevena announced on Monday the hiring of Dan Hara to conduct consultations on modernizing the taxi industry, with a report expected in the spring.

'We have our strategy'

Trevena has maintained that six different laws governing the taxi industry must be modernized before a fair and safe ride-hailing system can be added to the mix.

"We have our strategy for working forward. He is trying to get through his bill," Trevena said of Weaver's bid to speed up the process.

The Greens have a pact to work together with the minority NDP government on key issues and provide support on confidence matters.

Ride hailing legislation was not part of that agreement, Weaver said.

Liberal support

The opposition Liberals have hounded the government for what they characterize as a delay on a difficult decision that could anger the taxi industry.

The Liberals said they need to look at Weaver's bill but have indicated initial support.

"My opinoin is that there is too much dithering going on, and we have got to get on with it," said critic Jane Thornthwaite.

"The B.C. Liberals will be supporting anything that brings ridesharing as soon as possible," 

Support from the Liberals could give the Greens the votes they need to pass the legislation, but the NDP is still in the drivers seat.

The government gets to decide whether private-members bills are brought forward for debate and a vote — or die on the order paper.

NDP still in drivers seat

During the provincial election, all three parties committed to ride hailing by the end of 2017.

A statement from Uber Canada called on all parties to support the Greens' bill.

"The legislation proposed by the Green Party would establish a made-in-BC safety and consumer protection regime for ridesharing that is similar to regulations adopted throughout North America," said spokesperson Susie Heath.