Watson won't soften Uber stance despite Tory remarks

Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson says the city won't be softening its stance on popular ride-sharing service Uber despite comments from Toronto mayor-elect John Tory.

Services like Uber "here to stay," says Toronto mayor-elect

Ride-sharing service Uber is "here to stay," according to Toronto mayor-elect John Tory. (Bloomberg)

Mayor Jim Watson says Ottawa won't be softening its stance on ride-sharing service Uber even though Toronto's mayor-elect indicated that the company's increasing popularity could prompt changes to that city's taxi bylaws.

Toronto city officials announced earlier this week that they would be seeking a legal injunction to prevent the San Francisco-based Uber, which first launched in 2009, from operating in the city.

But mayor-elect John Tory told CBC Toronto that services like Uber — which connects riders to potential drivers using a mobile app — are the wave of the future.

"I just think we use what I'll call old-fashioned methods like court cases … when in fact these kinds of technological changes are here to stay," said Tory, who also pledged not stop Toronto's legal case once he's sworn in as mayor in December.

Uber has proven controversial because it allows non-professional drivers to act essentially as taxi operators, but without having to first obtain taxi licenses.

The company's UberX app allows drivers to turn their cars into taxis, and passengers can use the program to request a ride from any other UberX user.

Uber needs to follow rules: Watson

Ottawa pledged to target unlicensed Uber drivers soon after the company debuted in the city in September, citing a lack of regulations that would govern the service.

Watson said Wednesday that despite his Toronto counterpart's position on Uber, the ride-sharing service would still be subject to enforcement here in Ottawa.  

"I want the company to follow the rules like every other taxi driver has to, and that's our bottom line," he said.

Uber drivers have been charged with operating an illegal taxi 14 times since the service arrived in Ottawa.

Officials in Gatineau, Que., have taken a similarly firm stance against Uber.