British Columbia

Delta councillor joins Surrey mayor in trying to stop ride-hailing but their options are limited

Days after Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum vowed to block companies like Uber and Lyft from operating in his city, Delta Coun. Lois Jackson has brought forward a motion to also try to stop the new regulations from going ahead.   

Former mayor Lois Jackson believes cities should have a greater say in how new regulations are developed

The B.C. government says it expects ride-hailing companies like Uber to operate in the province by the end of 2019. (The Associated Press)

Some local politicians in Metro Vancouver opposed to ride-hailing aren't going down without a fight, despite their limited power.

Days after Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum vowed to block companies like Uber and Lyft from operating in his city, Delta Coun. Lois Jackson has brought forward a motion to also try to stop the new regulations from going ahead.   

"It just seems to me there's a lot of unanswered questions," said Jackson, who was Delta's mayor for 19 years prior to choosing to run instead for council last year. 

Her motion calls for an emergency resolution at the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention later this month, pushing the province to give municipalities a greater say in how ride-hailing operates — instead of obeying the current regulations set out by the Passenger Transportation Board (PTB).

"We should be involved. [The PTB] aren't an elected body. The councils are," she said. 

"They know what's happening in their communities. And I just think we we're going to have to go back to the drawing board on this, and the province should see the wisdom in doing that."

Uber and Lyft have said they are filing applications with the PTB and hope to be in operation throughout the Lower Mainland by the end of the year. 

Lois Jackson's motion calls for Delta to oppose the new ride-hailing policies and to push for a new municipal-led process for establishing ride-hailing companies in the province. (Harman/CBC)

'It's coming. It's needed'

The provincial government has ceded most of the details around ride-hailing to the Passenger Transportation Board and has made it clear municipalities will not have much authority.

"Municipalities may not ... prohibit [ride-hailing vehicles] from operating in the municipality," says the province on its website. 

Jackson is still hopeful the province might intervene if enough municipalities speak out. 

But her motion might not even make it through Delta council: Mayor George Harvie has spoken in favour of ride-hailing, as has councillor Dylan Kruger. 

He said Delta residents are particularly hampered by a lack of ride-hailing, given the limited transit options and distance from Vancouver. 

"There's no secret there's a very oversized and powerful taxi lobby, especially south of the Fraser in Delta and Surrey, that has a lot of influence, but you have to look at the facts," said Kruger.

"It's coming in. It's needed. It's important that our municipal leaders stand up for what consumers want and consumers want more options." 

With the province indicating its support for ride-hailing companies, those opposed to Uber and Lyft might have to look to the courts, where taxi companies have filed injunctions

But Jackson hopes the power of persuasion will have an effect. 

"We can set timelines to things, but I think that's a folly. Let's do it right," she said. "I'm not saying it's all bad, I'm saying we should take a sober second look." 

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