Delta wants to see a level playing field when it comes to the taxi industry and the introduction of ride hailing services in the Lower Mainland - and is going straight to the provincial government to ensure this happens.
At its regular council meeting Monday night, council voted 5-1 against supporting a motion brought forward by Coun. Lois Jackson calling for the City of Delta to oppose the B.C. Passenger Transportation Board’s (PTB) current operational policy for ride-hailing companies as well as bringing forward an emergency motion to that effect at next week’s Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) convention in Vancouver.
Instead, Delta passed a motion brought forward by staff in a unanimous 6-0 vote (Coun. Jeannie Kanakos was absent from the meeting) that letters be sent to the provincial government and the PTB requesting that discrepancies between taxi and the Transportation Network Services regulations be addressed.
“These discrepancies should be revisited and revised to the extent necessary to avoid disadvantaging the taxi industry, limit substantial increases in traffic congestion, provide effective transportation options for people with disabilities and ensure passenger safety,” said director of corporate services Mel Chessman in a report to council. “By advocating directly to the jurisdictions with authority over this issue, the need to rely on the agreement of other municipalities at the UBCM convention simply allow Delta’s concerns to get to the right places is eliminated.”
Jackson, in introducing her motion, was adamant that simply talking to the province was not good enough.
“There are many facets that concern me and I really believe that the province and the PTB, despite working on this for two years, is still flubbing around on this. I realize staff have put forward a motion, but I have to say that White Rock has supported this motion, Langley is voting on this tonight and Richmond is looking at this as well. There is support for this to ensure it is done correctly with everyone having a fair opportunity.
“I think this has to go to UBCM. They have more muscle. This has to be done right instead of trying to invent a wheel that is broken before it even gets started.”
Coun. Dylan Kruger who opposed Jackson’s motion along with councillors Bruce McDonald, Alicia Guichon, Dan Copeland and Mayor George Harvie said the fact that B.C. is the only major jurisdiction in North America that does not have legalized ride-sharing is frankly an embarrassment.
“Should we eliminate boundaries for taxi companies? Absolutely. Taxi regulations are antiquated and in urgent need of updating,” Kruger said. “However, this is a provincial matter - municipal governments have no jurisdiction on transportation regulations. Frankly, this motion does not belong anywhere near a municipal council table.”
Harvie said he is in full support of ride hailing services.
“I support any solution that improves the ability for Deltans to get home safely at all hours,” said Harvie. “My only concern is that there is fairness in requirements by the provincial government for ride hailing vehicles and our taxis.I will vote against any resolution that does not support ride hailing – we have waited too long.
“I support requirements that are consistent between ride hailing vehicles and taxis that also allow Delta taxis to pick up fares while they are in other cities such as Vancouver or Richmond. My goal is to have more opportunities for Delta residents to travel at all hours without using their own vehicle.”
Harvie said he saw Delta’s new motion as an opportunity to get improvements and better service for the taxi industry and the overall service in Delta.
“We won’t get any improvements for Translink – we are at the bottom of the food chain there. We need to take something to the public that ensures they can get home safely,” said Harvie. “This is a public safety issue. By going directly to the province we get to this quicker and bypass UBCM. I want to impress upon the taxi industry that I fully support a level playing field and you have a commitment from myself as mayor from this council to achieve that for you.”