'We respectfully decline': Uber to continue operating in Surrey despite mayor's complaints
SURREY -- Metro Vancouver is in the midst of its first weekend with ride hailing.
Lyft and Uber marked one full day of operations on Saturday, offering rides across the majority of the region.
But Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum is trying to outlaw the services in his city, a move that’s getting backlash from many commuters.
“Don’t make up my mind for me,” said Greg Bushell, a Surrey resident. “This is my community. Right? It’s our choice.”
Bushell is furious with McCallum after Surrey city staff demanded that Uber cease operations in the city in a letter Friday night.
“Chill out, man," Bushell said. "Open your mind. Like, what’s up? That’s just stupid. That’s ridiculous.”
The 52-year-old has multiple sclerosis and says getting a cab is nearly impossible.
“I think it’s going to be beneficial for people like me to have another option,” he told CTV News Vancouver, before heading down the street in his electric scooter.
Surrey City Council has yet to provide its official stance on ride-hailing.
“Until a decision is made on this regard, ride-hailing companies are precluded from operating within Surrey’s boundaries,” said Rob Costanzo, general manager of corporate services for the City of Surrey, in a statement.
Uber confirmed that it had received a request to cease operations, responding with, “We respectfully decline. No other city is taking this approach.”
“The Passenger Transportation Board and the provincial government have given Uber all necessary licences authorizing Uber to continue operating across Metro Vancouver and in the City of Surrey,” said Michael van Hemmen, Uber’s head of Western Canada.
Surrey City Councillor Jack Hundial says he learned about the request through the media.
“Currently in the City of Surrey there’s no specific bylaw for ride-sharing,” said Hundial.
He says that’s turned enforcement into a legal grey area.
The city can require operators to obtain a business license, which may include additional fees and restrictions.
“We’re committed to getting all the necessary licenses that we need to operate in Metro Vancouver and British Columbia,” said Peter Lukomskyj, general manager for Lyft BC.
The TransLink Mayors’ Council plans to release an inter-municipal business license by early next month, but McCallum is not on board.
“Until I am assured that a level playing field is established, I will not be supporting the issuing of ride hailing business licenses,” said McCallum in the statement Friday.
Hundial believes the mayor is going against what the majority of Surrey residents want.
“I think you have a mayor here who’s catering to his supporters and his supporters only,” he said.
CTV News has been in touch with the Vancouver Taxi Association. Spokesperson Carolyn Bauer said the organization would be putting out a press release Monday morning.
Hundial says he plans to bring the ride-sharing issue up at the city council meeting Monday night. He hopes city staff will be able to provide a recommendation on how to proceed.