Ride-sharing tech company Uber may be advertising to local drivers and meeting with City of Vancouver officials – but that doesn’t mean it’s coming to Vancouver any time soon.

The company placed ads targeted to Vancouver looking for local drivers to sign up for a service that hasn’t been in B.C. for two years after a spat with regulators.

“Earn up to $20/hour in fares driving in Vancouver with uberX!” the ad reads, calling that amount “major moolah…Sign up for a partner account with Uber to become a partner driver.”

Reached over the phone, company spokesperson Arielle Goran said the company has always wanted to return.

“We are eager to come back. We know there are many who want to see us back and we are working hard to get to that point,” Goran said.

The company will be meeting with Vancouver city councillors this week – but Goran acknowledged that Uber hasn’t made much headway changing its reception in one of those most highly regulated taxi environments in the world.

The province’s taxi watchdog, the Passenger Transportation Board, ran Uber out of town by demanding Uber classify itself as a limousine service, which would require it charge each rider a minimum of $75 per ride.

That was too expensive for Uber, which argued that it’s not a taxi service but a smartphone-based app that connects drivers with those in need of a ride. Ultimately Uber cancelled operations in the province.

While some 210 cities have Uber across the world – including Vancouver, Wa. – it’s not here in Vancouver, B.C.

“Vancouver has maybe the shameful distinction as being the only city that Uber retreated from because the regulations make it very hard,” said SFU Masters Graduate Benn Proctor, who studied Vancouver’s taxi industry in his thesis.

His study found that Vancouver has the highest fares in the country, and the lowest number of taxis per capita in the country and possibly North America. To get the same number of cabs per capita as Calgary, Metro Vancouver would need some 1900 new cabs, he found.

On top of that, cab numbers are strictly limited, with new applicants facing almost impossible hurdles at the Passenger Transportation Board to get new licenses. As a result, existing licenses can be sold for $800,000 each, he said. The financing costs of buying a licence is passed on to consumers at the farebox.

“For the consumer, [Uber] is a win,” he said. “For the incumbent industry, it’s a loss. But this is an industry that has reaped profits for a long time off the backs of consumers.”

The City of Vancouver will hear what Uber has to say, but will debate a motion delaying any new licensing decisions.

City Councillor Geoff Meggs says he’s not convinced that Uber would create wheelchair accessible cabs, or whether their drivers would go through criminal record checks.

“We don’t want to see any loss of standards. We’d like to see new innovation in service. And if at all possible we should protect the people who have built the industry to where it is,” Meggs said.

“They’ve worked hard, they’ve followed the rules, and we don’t want to do something that would destabilize them if we can avoid it,” he said.