British Columbia

Okanagan mayors urge province to relax licence requirements for ride-hailing and taxi drivers

In a letter, four B.C. Okanagan mayors asked the province to reconsider driver's licence requirements for ride-hailing and taxi drivers.

Province insists on Class 4 requirement despite request of mayors

A group of mayors in B.C.'s Okanagan region have written a letter to the province asking it to establish a Class 5 minimum licence requirement for both ride-hailing and taxi drivers. (Kirk Fraser/CBC)

Four B.C. Okanagan mayors are asking the province to reconsider its driver's licence requirements for ride-hailing drivers. 

Provincial regulations state all ride-hailing drivers must hold a Class 4 commercial licence, opposed to the Class 5 that most drivers carry. Class 4 applicants must provide ICBC with a driver abstract, as well as a police criminal record check.

B.C.'s Transportation Ministry says ride-hailing companies can begin applying to enter the market on Sept. 3.

Uber and Lyft, major ride-hailing companies, say they don't plan to operate outside of Metro Vancouver at this time, largely due to the Class 4 requirement.

West Kelowna Mayor Gord Milsom, along with the Sustainable Transportation Partnership of the Central Okanagan (STPCO), recently penned a letter to the government, asking it to review the Class 4 requirement.

"As a result, we'll see longer wait times," Milsom said, speaking to the issue of limited mobility options in the Okanagan area.

"Companies like Uber and Lyft — they may not get enough drivers with a Class 4 to be able to participate."

The letter delivered by STPCO urges the province to establish a Class 5 minimum licence requirement for both ride-hailing and taxi drivers.

When asked by CBC why the letter concerns taxi drivers as well, Mayor Milsom said he was unaware it did so. Milsom's signature is on the letter.

West Kelowna Mayor Gord Milsom was ostensibly unaware the letter to government he signed concerned taxi drivers as well as ride-hailing drivers. (City of West Kelowna)

STPCO is a formal partnership of the City of Kelowna, City of West Kelowna, Districts of Lake Country and Peachland, Westbank First Nation and the Regional District of Central Okanagan.

The STPCO letter also states that to apply for a Class 4, someone must have already been a driver in B.C. for two years. The letter argues the requirement will unfairly affect young people and new immigrants.

Provincial response

In response, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure said there are already more than 160,000 people with the necessary commercial licences in B.C.

"ICBC has anticipated the demand and has hired additional driver examiners to support increased Class 4 testing," reads a statement from the ministry.

The statement goes on to say the government is monitoring demand for Class 4 testing, and will increase the number of available Class 4 road test appointments to meet demand if needed.

The ministry says ICBC statistics show Class 4 licences are 13 per cent "safer" than regular licences.

With files from Radio West

Radio West is CBC Radio's afternoon show for the B.C. interior and north. Replay full episodes on CBC Listen, and connect with the team on Facebook.