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Bylaw could open door for ridesharing

A new bylaw under review could soon allow companies like Uber to operate in the city. Deputy Director of Infrastructure and Protective Services Chris Manuel says rideshares aren’t currently allowed to run in Grande Prairie.

“Under the current laws, it’s very difficult for them to meet the regulatory requirements that are necessary in order for them to operate in the city.”

The city’s laws for things like taxis and limo services are part of The Business Licence Bylaw which was created in 2003. Manuel says he plans to make the Vehicles for Hire section its own separate bylaw because the current one is outdated.

“The transportation industry has changed a great deal since that time. Things covered under the new vehicle for hire bylaw would be things like Uber and designated driver services both of which currently fall outside our existing bylaw.”

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Under the current bylaw, all vehicles for hire have to be marked with decals and have a top light, taxi meter, and radios. Manuel says rideshare programs shouldn’t be expected to meet those criteria.

“They are using somebody’s private vehicle so they’re not going to drill holes in the top of their roof to put a top light on like a taxi and they’re not going to be decalling their personal vehicles.”

Manuel says he is currently meeting with people in the industry to find out what else they would change about the current laws and will use the information collected to draft the new bylaw. If approved by City Council, the new Vehicle for Hire bylaw could come into effect by January 1, 2019.

Uber has previously said it does not have plans to launch in Grande Prairie.

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