Uber, other ride-sharing services bylaw approved by Waterloo region

Regional councillors have approved its new Vehicle for Hire bylaw that will cover taxis and ride-hailing services like Uber.

New vehicle for hire bylaw comes into effect in December

Waterloo region has approved a new Vehicle for Hire bylaw. (CBC)

A year after it began its review, the Region of Waterloo has approved a new bylaw for taxis and taxi-type services.

The new Vehicle for Hire bylaw now covers ride-hailing services like Uber and RideCo. It also sets out vehicle and driver requirements. All services must comply with the new bylaw in order to operate in the region.

The bylaw was approved at Wednesday night's meeting and it comes into effect Dec. 1.

"Public input was clear, they wanted both options – they wanted choice," the region said in a release in June. "Drivers, owners and brokers will now have a similar license structure that achieves public safety and consumer protection."

The region has been reviewing the bylaw since August 2015.

Vehicle and driver regulations

All vehicles for hire will now have to be identified with two exterior decals that display the name or trademark of the taxi broker or vehicle booking company.

The decals will have to be at least 200 square cm in size – approximately the size of a standard business envelope – and staff will review the size and location requirements within 12 months.

All drivers must be able to provide a vehicle that is accessible and carry the proper insurance as laid out in the new bylaw.

Drivers will need real-time GPS but they will not need to install cameras in their vehicles – that decision is left up to the individual broker as a business decision.

The issue of in-vehicle CCTV will be reviewed over a 12-month period with a report back to the committee, regional staff said.

The region held several public consultation sessions to get feedback from residents.

Taxi drivers have argued it was unfair that ride-hailing businesses like Uber could operate unlicensed and unregulated in the Region of Waterloo while taxi drivers have to pay licensing fees and get police background checks.