Michael van Hemmen, head of Western Canada for Uber, addresses the media during a news conference in Vancouver B.C, Wednesday, January, 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

Premier says McCallum is ‘destabilizing’ ride-hailing industry

John Horgan says the Surrey mayor should listen to residents who want competition in Uber and Lyft

Premier John Horgan accused Surrey’s mayor on Wednesday of putting up unnecessary roadblocks in his city as ride-hailing in Metro Vancouver gets off to a contentious start.

Horgan, who faced intense pressure last year to speed up the ride-hailing approval process, said competition brings challenges but the government developed a regulatory framework to ensure a level playing field.

“When new competition comes in, you want to make sure you’re protecting the existing industry, but not protecting it from competition,” the premier said at a news conference in Prince George. “This is a free market economy. People understand that.”

He said the independent Passenger Transportation Board balanced the interests of the public and taxi industry before approving licences last week to Uber and Lyft.

“The way forward for Surrey and for Mr. [Doug] McCallum is to listen to the citizens in his community who want to see competition, not to destabilize and put people out of business but to provide a range of options for the travelling public.”

McCallum has said he will not support ride-hailing until he is convinced a fair playing field is established. He could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Uber has filed an injunction application in B.C. Supreme Court to prevent Surrey from issuing fines to its drivers.

Transportation Minister Claire Trevena said she preferred not to comment on a matter that is before the courts, but the government spent two years developing legislation and regulations in advance of ride-hailing licences being approved by the independent board.

The Canadian Press

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