E-scooter legislation still months away for Waterloo region

The province announced a five-year pilot project will begin on Jan. 1. Communities in Waterloo Region will wait until Spring for their own legislation.

The province announced a five-year pilot project will begin in 2020 and municipalities decide how to regulate

The province has announced a series of guidelines around its e-scooter pilot project. (Yanjun Li/CBC) (Yanjun Li/CBC)

Waterloo Region will have to wait until spring for new e-scooter legislation. 

Electric scooters — generally app-activated, rented, dockless scooters — are an increasingly common sight on city sidewalks around the world.  

The province announced a five-year pilot project will begin on Jan. 1 2020, which it says will give Ontarians more transit options.

Now it's up to municipalities to decide whether to allow the devices on municipal roads, parks and trails.

That process is going to take a few more months in the Region of Waterloo. 

The region, as well as the cities of Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge are working on a "micro-mobility feasibility study" to govern the use of e-scooters, said Barry Cronkite, director of transportation services with the City of Kitchener. 

He said a "unified approach" should be ready for committee and council by early spring.

The new rules could cover both e-scooter and scooter "ride sharing" and would likely come as an amendment to an existing bylaw, rather than a complete re-write of city legislation, according to Cronkite.

Guelph also waiting until after New Year

The city of Guelph is also waiting until the new year to consider an e-scooter bylaw.

"We kind of saw this coming," said Dave Wiedrick, bylaw manager for the city. 

Guelph has already held review meetings on the issue of e-scooters. 

It will be calling a working group together again sometime in the new year, which will include members of the city's fire, police, bylaw and transit services, he said. 

It will come before city hall at some point afterward, but Wiedrick said that could take some time. 

Rolling ahead, despite criticism

Many scooter rental services allow users to sign out devices and leave them behind on sidewalks and public walkways afterwards. 

That's led to some criticism of province's plans  — particularly from disability advocates, who say allowing e-scooters on the roads will make it harder for people with disabilities to get around, and could lead to injuries. 

Representatives of the cities of Kitchener, Waterloo, Cambridge and Guelph all told CBC Kitchener-Waterloo that those concerns will be taken into consideration as they plan their legislation.  

Cronkite says the city of Kitchener will be working with the Grand River Accessibility Advisory Committee.  

"This has an opportunity to really fill in the gaps and fill in that last mile component from a transit perspective," he said.

"It's an exciting opportunity, it's just making sure that we get to the opportunity done in the right way."