Cabbies park at Winnipeg city hall to send message to mayor on Uber-enabling regulations
No vote related to ride-hailing services today, but EPC will consider push for more taxi industry input
Dozens of cab drivers converged on city hall Wednesday morning to send Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman a message about their desire to be consulted about the way their industry will be regulated after services such as Uber and Lyft come to the city.
Cab drivers filled both sides of the council chamber gallery during the first few hours of city council's September meeting, ostensibly in support of an effort by Mynarski Coun. Ross Eadie to ensure cab drivers will have some input into regulations the city is expecting to enact after the province enables ride-hailing services to operate in Winnipeg.
The city is preparing to develop those regulations, even though the province has yet to pass its legislation around ride-hailing services, which it introduced in March. Last week, Bowman urged all provincial MLAs to support the bill.
Before the city's regulations are developed, Eadie and Transcona Coun. Russ Wyatt want the mayor to create a working group that will include taxicab representation. A motion authored by the duo has been referred automatically to an executive policy committee meeting in October.
Several cab drivers at city hall told CBC News they were not aware there was no vote on the regulations at council on Wednesday. Some said they were asked to attend by their peers, while others said they were asked to come to city hall because they were led to believe there would be a vote.
Eadie took responsibility for the presence of the cab drivers, expressing concern that Winnipeg's ride-hailing regulations could threaten the livelihoods of more than 400 drivers in favour of a ride-hailing company that he fears will not be subject to the same insurance policies as taxis.
"Uber is a very aggressive, inconsiderate, money-making monolith. Let's be clear. What is the problem with insuring? Like, just having a Class 4 driver's licence doesn't mean you should be able to drive consumers," Eadie told reporters during council's lunch-hour break.
During the morning session of council, Bowman faced criticism from several non-EPC councillors for the way Winnipeg has prepared for the arrival of services such as Uber and Lyft.
Eadie asked the mayor why the city would bother to prepare new regulations when the province has not passed its legislation. Bowman responded by saying Winnipeg would be criticized if it did not plan for the inevitable.
North Kildonan Coun. Jeff Browaty asked the mayor to commit to meeting with the taxi industry. Bowman said he would be happy to meet with Browaty and wondered how a council conservative could be opposed to competition in the ride-hailing industry.
Browaty said he is not opposed to Uber but does wonder why the mayor is against consultations.
The mayor said he has received requests to meet from three individual cab drivers, all of whom should be accommodated by his office. He also said it is unclear who Dobson, Browaty and Eadie want him to meet.
In a statement, the Winnipeg Taxi Alliance — a coalition of industry drivers and employees — said its members would be pleased to meet with Bowman.
"Our members have communicated with his office and all members of council, by phone and email, on a number of issues, since our founding in 2015," spokesperson Michael Diamond said via email.
"We support Coun. Eadie's motion, and we would be pleased to participate in extensive and meaningful consultations."