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Hamilton asks Uber to suspend service

Though it has been operating in the city for months, city council passed a motion Wednesday asking Uber to suspend operations in Hamilton while the city examines changes to taxi regulations.
One is in a cab. One is in an Uber car. Who gets to the finish line first? 1:45

Though it has been operating in the city for months, city council passed a motion Wednesday asking Uber to suspend operations in Hamilton while the city examines changes to taxi regulations.

An Uber spokesperson was peppered with questions at city hall, while dozens of cab drivers watched from the gallery.

Security guards even watched nearby to make sure nothing got out of hand. "That's something I've never seen in my time. That was quite jarring for me," said Coun. Aidan Johnson. "But this is what it means to debate Uber."

In the end, council passed two motions: one that Uber suspend its operations while city probes regulatory changes, and a second to invite Uber and other stakeholders (including the taxi industry) to meet and brainstorm solutions.

Spokesperson Susie Heath said the company was "pleased" to attend the meeting, but did not answer questions on if the service would suspend operations in Hamilton as council requested.

"We believe that ridesharing and Uber should be regulated and look forward to continuing our work with city officials and council as we move towards a new regulatory framework that embraces ridesharing, just as we are in cities across Canada," she said.

"I think Uber showed good faith today in coming and enduring a multi-hour meeting," Johnson said, adding that courts that are examining the legal side of the company's business model will take note of civic debates like this one.

"We're sending valuable signals to the courts," he said. Johnson also said he wants to make sure Uber is contributing to the city's $84 million road maintenance budget.

"Uber is making its money on our roads and bridges, and they need to pay their fair share," he said. "We need the money."

Back in September, the city announced that eight people are facing a total of 23 charges for working as Uber drivers.

The charges include operating as a taxicab driver with no licence, operating a vehicle not approved for use as a taxi, and failure to provide the city with proof of third-party liability insurance of at least $2-million.

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