British Columbia

Uber hiring staff in Vancouver, despite city moratorium

Ride-for-hire app company Uber is looking to hire managers in Vancouver, despite the city government's decision last week to impose a six-month moratorium on issuing new taxi licences.

Rideshare service presses forward with Vancouver launch despite 6-month freeze on new taxi licences

Uber is seen on a smartphone mounted in a car in Mumbai, India. Uber has entered more than 200 markets, ranging from its hometown of San Francisco to Berlin to Tokyo and over a dozen major cities in Asia — but it hasn't yet cracked Vancouver, B.C. (Rafiq Maqboo/Associated Press)

Ride-for-hire app company Uber is looking to hire managers in Vancouver, despite the city government's decision last week to impose a six-month moratorium on issuing new taxi licences.

City council voted to use that time to study what the impacts might be of several changes to taxi licensing in the city, including how a ride-share service like Uber would fit into the picture.

Despite the regulatory setback, the company has posted jobs for a marketing manager, an operations and logistics manager and a general manager — all based in Vancouver.

The wording in one of the posts is bold: "We won't stop until all of Vancouver is riding Uber.

Uber's smart phone app links non-regulated drivers and their cars with people looking for a ride, and already operates in more than 200 cities worldwide.

A spokeswoman for Uber said the company is always looking for talent in cities where it already operates, and beyond.

"We have made it no secret that we hope to return to Vancouver, and knowing that it takes time to build the perfect team, we're eager to talk to people," Uber's spokeswoman said in an email to CBC News.

Job ads a PR move: professor

But Lindsay Meredith, a marketing strategy professor at SFU, says the provocative job ads do more than just look for employees.

"Yes, the Uber ad is as much about advertising to the general populace and to the city hall folks as it is about, quote recruiting,'" he told CBC News. 

"This is their way of announcing, 'We plan on hitting the ground in Vancouver and we plan on trying to stake some territory here and city hall and taxi driver companies be damned.'"

Meredith said the company is reaching out in what's called a bypass strategy in marketing.

"What you're doing is you're going around your opponent and basically trying to build a grassroots, or groundswell, support among the final consumers," he said.

"You might just get enough people start pressuring the politicians saying, we've had it with this taxi stuff, this looks like the next generation, looks like it'll serve our needs."

Opposition threatens fines, firings

Uber just launched in Ottawa against the wishes of city hall there. Bylaw officers in the nation's capital reacted by posing as customers and handing out $650 fines to two drivers.

And back the Lower Mainland, taxi companies are warning their drivers about Uber — telling them they will be fired if they sign up to moonlight.

Carolyn Bauer, general manager of Yellow Cab and spokeswoman for the Vancouver Taxi Association, says the concern is that drivers would endanger existing taxi licences by using company cars for Uber.

"All taxi companies in Vancouver have to make sure that we are always in compliance with condition of licence with the province, otherwise we stand to lose our licence," she said.

"It's not the driver that loses their licence, it's the company."

Bauer also said if Uber is allowed to operate in Vancouver, it will create a financial catastrophe for traditional taxi operators.

With files from the CBC's Chad Pawson