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Uber taking Surrey to court over 'illegal tickets'
VANCOUVER -- Uber is asking a BC Supreme Court judge to step in and order an injunction to stop the City of Surrey from issuing what it calls "illegal tickets" to its drivers.
The announcement comes a day after Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum said drivers who continue to pick up in the city would no longer get warnings from bylaw officers, and instead would be handed $500 fines.
"Our preference is to work collaboratively with municipalities, and we are doing so across the region," Uber's head of western Canada, Michael van Hemmen, said in a written statement. "However, Uber must stand up when drivers and riders are being bullied and intimidated."
On Monday, CTV News interviewed Uber driver Carlos Medina who said he felt "cornered" by Surrey bylaw officers. He said they used the app Sunday afternoon to pose as a would-be passenger before writing him a warning ticket.
Uber’s application for an injunction is based in large part on its understanding that the City of Surrey "does not have the authority to prevent ridesharing companies from operating."
Transportation Minister Claire Trevena told CTV News on Tuesday that provincial law specifically does not allow a municipality to block services.
"While I understand (Mayor McCallum’s) concerns, and he is very, very passionate about this," said Trevena, "…we do have legislation in place."
Trevena wouldn’t directly answer a question about whether the province is exploring legal options in court, but said she is in communication with McCallum.
"I would hope that (the Mayor) listens to the overwhelming demand for ride hailing that I’m sure he’s aware of,” said Trevena.
On Tuesday, before Uber filed its application, McCallum told a news conference he had "no concerns" about lawsuits.
A day earlier, the mayor said that he "supports" ride hailing, but only on a "level playing field" with the taxi industry.
While municipalities may issue business licences to ride hailing companies, the mayor has acknowledged there is no licence available in Surrey for ride hailing services.
In September 2019, he told a gathering of taxi drivers in East Vancouver that business licences were the "tool" he was keeping in his back pocket to keep ride hailing out of Surrey and said he would not be issuing them.
The move by Uber comes a day after nine Metro Vancouver cab companies filed two legal challenges, including an application for an injunction to suspend Uber and Lyft while a petition to rescind their licences goes before the court.
In the application filed Tuesday, Uber said that if the request for an injunction is refused, the company is prepared to go to trial and will seek restitution and compensation for lost profits.
Uber’s application is scheduled to be heard in BC Supreme Court on Feb. 5.