British Columbia

Green Party hits the accelerator on ride-hailing, will introduce legislation this fall

The B.C. Green Party wants to introduce legislation to bring ride-hailing services like Uber to B.C. this fall, putting pressure on the NDP government who have yet to specify a timeline.

'The government cannot stick its head in the sand when it comes to new technology,' says Green leader

The B.C. Green Party says it will introduce legislation to enable ride-hailing this fall. (Sergio Perez/Reuters)

The B.C. Green Party announced Monday it will introduce legislation to enable ride-hailing services this fall — putting the pressure on the NDP government to come up with a more specific timeline regarding the popular online applications.

Andrew Weaver, leader of the B.C. Greens, said he wants to see the government take a proactive response to technology, pointing out Vancouver is the largest city in North America without ride-hailing.

"The government cannot stick its head in the sand when it comes to new technology," he said.

Weaver has introduced ride-hailing legislation twice before, once in April 2016 and again in February 2017.

Ride-hailing apps — like Uber and Lyft — have been the subject of considerable political tension in B.C. where many opponents say the service will harm the existing taxi industry.

During the election the NDP said it supported the passing of new rules to introduce ride-hailing to B.C. in 2017, but it is working on what it calls "a fair approach" to ride-hailing before introducing the service. It has yet to offer a specific timeline.

Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Claire Trevana responded to Weaver's announcement with a written statement, saying she was "well aware" of the need to come up with a ride-hailing solution.

"I'm looking forward to working with Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver and a full range of stakeholders as we develop a made in B.C. plan that protects jobs that currently exist while ensuring British Columbians have access to the modern ridesharing services they expect," she wrote.

Her statement did not include a timeline.

The B.C. Liberals had announced ride-hailing services would be introduced by December — contingent on the party forming government after the May election.

'Positive action'

A spokesperson from the ride-hailing company Uber said it was "pleased to see positive action from the B.C. Green Party" and encouraged the other political parties to work together and lend support.

But Mohan Kang, the president of the B.C. Taxi Association, said any legislation must take into account public safety regulations for drivers and issues like fair compensation.

"It is not a simple solution where if we get it, we will solve the problem. It's going to create more problems," he said.

For his part, Weaver said the legislation would ensure a regulated environment and a fair playing field.

"Rather than talking about it and stalling, I think what we need is to ... get this going so we can move on," he said.