Uber still driving in St. Albert

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Uber is still operating in St. Albert.

The ride-sharing service announced it would cease operations in Edmonton earlier this week but said it would continue offering rides in outlying communities.

On Friday morning, there were several cars available in the downtown St. Albert area for rides according to the service’s mobile app.

Unlike Edmonton, St. Albert does not have a taxi bylaw nor has it introduced a vehicle-for-hire bylaw to address emerging trends like Uber’s ride-sharing business.

However, St. Albert does require the company to have a business licence to operate here. As of Wednesday this week, Uber had not yet applied to get a business licence from the city, said Marci Ng, a communications adviser for the City of St. Albert. The city had sent a letter in December about the need to acquire a business licence.

On Thursday afternoon, a spokesperson from Uber said they were looking into a St. Albert business licence.

“We have reached out to the City of St. Albert to inquire about business licensing and remain in discussion with the officials to take appropriate next steps,” said Jean-Christophe de Le Rue of Uber.

The province announced a regulatory framework for ride-for-hire services on Monday, which includes requirements for all drivers to have Class 4 driver’s licences, police information checks and for an interim insurance framework. The provincially approved insurance will not be available until later this year.

Insp. Ken Foster, the commander of the St. Albert RCMP detachment, wrote to city hall saying, the correct class of licence is needed if carrying passengers for hire. Police, however, would only determine if a vehicle is insured, not whether it has the correct level of insurance, which he said is an administrative matter.

Crouse said he’s heard positive things about the Uber service in St. Albert.

As for enforcement, he said there would have to be a reported complaint because the cars can be difficult to spot, since they are unmarked.

“Someone would have to squeal, someone would have to report, so this isn’t an easy one to enforce,” Crouse said. “What we need to be able to do is get our bylaw in place so there’s structure around all these things.”

A bylaw is expected to be available for council’s consideration in early 2017.

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