B.C. judge orders Surrey to stop fining Uber drivers
VANCOUVER -- A B.C. Supreme Court judge is ordering the City of Surrey to stop issuing bylaw fines to Uber drivers operating within its boundaries.
Lawyers for the ride-hailing company had called the tickets illegal, arguing that the city was fining them for operating without a business licence yet didn't have a licence for them to apply for.
Uber says dozens of drivers have received the $500 tickets.
"I find the public interest favours granting the injunction," said Madame Justice Veronica Jackson.
Jackson gave an oral decision to the court via teleconference Friday morning, finding that since the provincial Passenger Transportation Board had approved ride-hailing and there's not a Surrey business licence to apply for, the company's drivers cannot be fined for working in the city.
The judge affirmed the PTB's authority to grant ride-hailing licences, which it described as being in the public interest, and singled out comments by Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum against the industry.
"Surrey has been attempting to ride two horses at once," said the judge in reference to demanding a business licence it did not make available. "This has been happening during Surrey's stated intention to not allow or preclude (ride-hailing) operations in Surrey despite knowing it has no authority to prohibit it."
A lawyer representing the City of Surrey had argued council needs time to consider how to issue a licence. He also tried to distance the mayor's comments in support of the taxi industry, calling them McCallum's personal stance and not representing council or city staff.
Shortly after the judge finished delivering her decision, an emailed statement was sent by McCallum which began by saying "Time to move on."
"We will work with TransLink on the mayors' council motion on a regional business licence to ensure a level playing field between ride-hailing and taxis," he said in the statement.
The city soonafter confirmed it would abide by the court’s decision and not issue any more bylaw tickets.
"We're pleased to see that the mayor has signalled that the City of Surrey will be looking to participate with the inter-municipal business licence that the region is working on (through TransLink’s Mayors’ Council) and will hopefully be in place later this spring," said Uber spokesperson Michael Van Hemmen.
He said his company is still pushing the province to review the Class 4 licence requirement, which costs hundreds of dollars and takes months to acquire.
"There’s not nearly enough drivers available at this time," said Van Hemmen.
"It’s very important for the region that we work together on a model that works."