Ride-sharing, taxis get safety regulations

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St. Albertans can feel safe using any type of transportation with the passing of new business license regulations for vehicle for hire companies.

The amended business license bylaw separates traditional vehicle for hire businesses, like taxi and limousine services, from transportation network companies, such as Uber and TappCar.

It requires transportation network companies to submit a valid certificate of approval issued by the Province of Alberta’s Registrar of Motor Vehicles Services upon applying for a business license or license renewal.

Rather than have these companies submit annual criminal record checks to the city, the new bylaw allows the city to access these records, as well as records of valid operators’ license and insurance coverage records, as necessary.

The province requires that transportation network services keep a database of these records, said Dawn Fedorvich, economic development officer with the city.

In April, Uber indicated that it would leave town if the city were to pass a previous version of the bylaw amendments. Michael van Hemmen, a representative of the ridesharing company, said it duplicated the regulations imposed by the province and the City of Edmonton and created too much red tape for the company.

“We think this removes the duplication that council was worried about in the initial draft and yet still allows us to check for safety operations,” said Dawn Fedorvich, economic development officer with the city, on Monday.

The new bylaw reflects what is currently being imposed by the City of Edmonton. The neighbouring metropolitan region requires transportation network companies to maintain a database of drivers, vehicles and records for audit purposes. Strathcona County will also be adopting similar regulations.

Fedorvich said Uber and TappCar are aware of the changes to initial bylaw, but had not provided any feedback.

Under the new bylaw traditional vehicle for hire companies are still required to provide drivers licenses, criminal record checks, vulnerable sector checks, commercial insurance and mechanical inspections for all drivers and vehicles hired or contracted by the business when applying for a business license.

Previously, these safety requirements did not exist for taxi and limousine services.

Coun. Tim Osborne said the new bylaw allows for a range of transportation options in the city, while ensuring that residents can feel safe using any of these options.

Coun. Hughes agreed. She said the new bylaw balanced business-friendly regulations with ensuring residents safety.

Mayor Nolan Crouse congratulated staff and council for getting through this emotional issue without any shirts being torn off in the gallery, referring to the events that occurred in September 2015 in Edmonton.

Council unanimously passed second and third reading of the business license bylaw amendments on Monday.

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Michelle Ferguson