Kitchener-Waterloo

Waterloo Region Uber drivers could face fines of up to $250

Waterloo Region bylaw officers will lay charges against Uber drivers in the area if they are caught.
If caught on the roads in Waterloo Region, Uber drivers could face fines between $165 and $250. (Reuters)

Bylaw officers will lay charges against Uber drivers in Waterloo Region if they are caught.

"They come under that bylaw because it's driven cars for hire. They're taking people places just like taxis do," said Regional Councillor Jane Mitchell, the chair of the licensing and retail committee.

"Under our present bylaw it is not legal to run a taxicab or limousine or car for hire that you are driving yourself. That's illegal. You have to have a licence, and you have to have various things like certain amounts of insurance, and the Region, we have to do various health and safety checks, and check the meter and so on."

Fines range from $165 for providing or attempting to provide taxicab service without a taxicab driver's license, to $250 for using a motor vehicle for the conveyance of individuals for a fee without a meter.

Taxicab bylaws will be enforced on a complaint basis until new regulations for services like Uber are in place. A first draft of the new regulations will be reported to council on August 11, with plans to implement a new bylaw in by January 2016.

Uber launched in Waterloo Region on Thursday, to the surprise of Regional councillors who had been meeting with the company for months.

"We were disappointed. They're a big company. They've been meeting with various councillors and they said they would work with us and then they just went ahead and started," said Mitchell.

Uber was recently embroiled in a legal dispute with the city of Toronto, which had attempted to get a permanent injunction on the company's operations.

The city argued that Uber is a taxi company and must abide by the city's regulations. But Judge Sean Dunphy dismissed the application, saying there is "no evidence" the company is operating as a taxi broker.

A spokesperson from Uber Canada cited this ruling in its response to the Region's decision to regulate Uber under its taxicab bylaws.

"As we saw from the recent Ontario court ruling, Uber is operating legally and is a new business model distinct from [taxis]," said Uber Canada spokesperson Susie Heath in an email to CBC News.

"We look forward to continuing our work with officials in Waterloo Region to modernize regulations to encourage innovation, put people first and create safe, reliable and affordable transportation options."

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