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Surrey mayor, Uber wage public war of words over ride-hailing tickets
SURREY -- Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum vows to keep up his fight against popular ride-hailing giant Uber, even as the company takes the city to B.C. Supreme Court, hoping a judge will order it to stop issuing bylaw tickets against Uber drivers.
"We campaigned on it. We got elected. And I don't back down from my campaign promises," McCallum told CTV Morning Live on Wednesday.
In Uber's first weekend of operation, bylaw officers issued 18 warning tickets to drivers and the mayor says staff have now been told to stop issuing warnings and give out $500 fines instead.
"No, we are not going to stand for illegal fines being issued to drivers whether that be in Surrey or elsewhere," said Uber's western Canadian spokesperson Michael van Hemmen as he outlined the company's legal strategy.
The city is also fining the company $500 per day for operating without a business licence – even though city staff acknowledge such a licence does not exist for ride-hailing companies.
"There could be some issue here with respect to how those tickets are being handed out, if the city has no jurisdiction to be issuing tickets because there really isn't an offence given the lack of an appropriate business license," said Vancouver lawyer Sarah Leamon.
Metro Vancouver mayors will meet next week to hammer out a regional ride-hailing business licence applicable in municipalities across the lower mainland – but it could take a long time to sort out the details.
Leamon sees a possible work-around in the province's existing Mobile Business Licence Program which already allows certain businesses, like caterers and construction companies, to operate across different jurisdictions.
"They're quite common and they just help to reduce red tape," she said.
As they await their day in court, McCallum and Uber continue to wage war publicly, with both expressing confidence the law is on their side.
"We expect to win this," said van Hemmen.
"We promised the people in our campaign that unless it's a level playing field they won't be in Surrey and that's the way it's going to end," said McCallum.