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Few answers for council on ride-sharing report

By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express

The latest in the city’s saga to find a solution for dealing with Uber and other ride-sharing companies has some councillors feeling a little inpatient.

At the corporate services committee on Monday, councillors were given the most recent document laying out the all the major figures and issues in the ride-sharing economy and what the city is now calling “transportation network companies” (businesses such as Uber and Lyft that allow people to hail rides via an app), but offered little in the way of concrete solutions for moving forward.

Ken Man, a policy analyst with the city, told councillors the issue is a complicated one.

“There are many interrelated issues that affect a lot of stakeholder groups,” he says.

As a go-forward step, once approved by council, the city will be undertaking consultations with both the public and industry members in order to gather further information before a final report and recommendation for next steps comes forward in September.

The consultation process will take place throughout June and July and include a pair of public meetings, two meetings with the taxi industry and TNC industry, along with one meeting with the designated driver industry.

“We need to gather this information and weigh it all before we come back with any report and recommendation to council,” says Jerry Conlin, the city’s director of municipal law enforcement and licensing services.

Councillor Amy McQuaid-England was not satisfied with the option, noting the city should be focusing more resources on enforcing the existing taxi cab bylaw, something Uber and other TNCs are currently violating by doing business in the city.

“These companies are currently operating illegally within our communities,” she said, adding that by approving the report, council “sends the wrong message” to the taxi and designated driver industries in the city, both of which must follow policies and legislative frameworks established by the city.

Conlin notes, however, that enforcement is currently being carried out in the city, but would not share the amount of infractions that have been handed out by bylaw officers. He says he would be willing to do so if council wished to move the meeting in camera, but that didn’t occur.

For Councillor Rick Kerr, he saw no harm in gathering further information.

“Allowing staff to do their due diligence is always a prudent course of action,” he says.

“I see no negatives to going through and allowing public input, allowing public education.”