Uber says it’s “highly unlikely” to operate in Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo

Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo’s updated Vehicle for Hire Bylaw has allowed ridesharing companies to operate in the region, but Uber says that they will unlikely be able to operate here.

An Uber spokesperson told Mix News that during Council’s consultation period for the rideshare bylaw, they provided feedback for consideration that would have the region adopt regulations similar to Edmonton, St Albert, Lethbridge and Airdrie.

“Unfortunately, the bylaw has additional red tape, high costs for individual drivers, and privacy concerns,” the Uber spokesperson said.

According to Uber, Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo is the only Canadian city that is requiring vehicles to have a camera, which they are calling invasive, and they believe it should be up to the driver.

During the June 14 council meeting, municipal staff stated that during a stakeholder engagement they heard from taxi brokerages and the public that they feel safer when there’s a camera in the vehicle.

An amendment was made by Councillor Allan Grandison to require ride-share vehicles to have cameras.

Uber also commented that the bylaw is requiring $170 for a Transportation Network Company (TNC) chauffeur permit, as well as an additional $500 for a TNC vehicle licence which they said was a steep barrier to entry for possible part-time or casual drivers.

Lastly, Uber noted that they operate in 140 municipalities across the country offering virtual support for their drivers.

The municipality requiring rideshare digital platforms to maintain a physical office in the municipality would not be realistic according to Uber.

“Uber Canada’s decision to launch in the Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo region, as in any other municipality, is dependent on market conditions and the operational complexity set out by local regulations. Keeping those conditions in mind, it is highly unlikely that the platform will launch under the current bylaw,” an Uber spokesperson explained.

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