Uber acting 'above the law,' Coun. Janet Davis says

City of Toronto could be back in court over its ongoing battle with the mobile taxi-hailing service Uber.

Company says they are working with city about acquiring a taxi licence

Coun. Janet Davis says it's clear Uber is continuing to operate outside of city rules. (Reuters)

The City of Toronto could be back in court over its ongoing battle with the mobile taxi-hailing service Uber.  

A staff report says Uber, specifically drivers who use the UberX app to pick up paying passengers, continues to ignore the city's taxi bylaws.

Last month council asked city staff to develop new rules to accommodate Uber in its taxi and limousine bylaws, with an added request that Uber cease operations until those rules are established.

Coun. Janet Davis says it's clear Uber is continuing to operate outside of city rules. 

"They are stubborn and arrogant and believe they are above the law," she told CBC News.

In a letter to the city clerk, Davis asked a number of pointed questions about how Uber has responded to the city's attempts to bring it under its regulatory wing.

She received a response from Tracey Cook, the head of the city's Licensing and Standards department, who said Uber has been advised it needs to become licensed. The letter also says the company has been told to cease operations of UberX, which allows the driver of any vehicle to connect with paying passengers.

Cook's letter says the city has been in "ongoing communications" with Uber Canada representatives about the process of acquiring a taxi licence.

The letter also says a total of 102 UberX drivers have been charged with violating the taxi bylaw. Finally, the report says the city has posted a notice on its website that says:

  • UberX drivers "pose a serious risk to the public."
  • UberX cabs may not be safety inspected and insured. 
  • UberX drivers may not be properly trained.

Coun. Davis said the city may need to launch a court injunction if Uber continues to operate outside the rules that other cabs are required to follow.

"We have closed the loophole in the bylaw," she said. "It's very clear what they have to do to operate in the city of Toronto now."

Uber in 'productive communication' with the city

In a written statement, Uber Canada spokesperson Susie Heath says the company has been in "productive communication" with the city over the recent bylaw changes and how it can work within a regulated environment. 

Meanwhile, Canadian insurance companies are making it clear that UberX drivers cannot legally operate without proper commercial insurance.  

Philomena Comerford is the president of Baird MacGregor Insurance Brokers LP.

"At the moment, they are all relying on personal insurance and the personal auto policy absolutely excludes the carrying of paying passengers."

Without proper insurance, UberX drivers could be on the hook for hundreds of thousands of dollars in the event of an accident and could be charged with insurance fraud, Comerford said.

It's expected council will discuss Davis's concerns at the council meeting that started Tuesday morning. 


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