Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum has thrown in the towel after a B.C. Supreme Court judge in Vancouver ordered Surrey to stop ticketing Uber drivers. But if you’re wondering how many drivers were ticketed, all told, and if all those $500 tickets will be voided, that answer is not forthcoming from city hall.
“There will be no further comment beyond what has been released this morning,” Oliver Lum, the city’s communications manager, told the Now-Leader on Friday.
Surrey City Councillor Brenda Locke said Monday she wants answers.
“We still have to determine costs, and what this whole dog and pony show, probably in my mind unnecessary, ended up costing Surrey residents,” she said.
“We know we went to an outside lawyer as well as our own legal team,” she said. “The other piece to it is how many people actually got the fines. I understand almost 60 people got tickets.”
Asked if they’ll be voided, she replied “I sure as heck hope so, I mean, we lost the court case. It would make sense, but I don’t know for sure.”
Matt MacInnis, vice president of NATIONAL Public Relations, representing Uber, said Friday that “Uber’s expectation would be that any outstanding issues with the tickets would be resolved based on today’s decision.”
The court order came Friday morning, two days after lawyers for the City of Surrey and Uber appeared in court to argue the merits of the ride-hailing company’s application for an injunction to stop the city from issuing Uber drivers $500 tickets.
City Hall released a terse statement from McCallum in response.
“Time to move on,” McCallum said Friday. “We will work with TransLink on the Mayors’ Council’s motion on a regional business licence to ensure a level playing field between ride-hailing and taxis.”
Rob Costanzo, general manager of corporate services for the City of Surrey, said Friday in a press release that the city will “abide by today’s court ruling” and “no further enforcement action will be taken in respect to the matters addressed by the court for ride hailing in Surrey.”
Michael van Hemmen, in charge of Uber for Western Canada, said Friday that the company is “pleased with the court’s ruling.
“We look forward to working with Surrey and the entire region on an IMBL (Intermunicipal Business Licence) which we hope will be adopted soon,” he said. “We are pleased that Mayor McCallum has joined other mayors in supporting this process.”
Surrey City Councillor Linda Annis also issued a press release, which said the court decision signals “it’s time for the mayor to stop the political games and get on with giving 550,000 Surrey residents ride hailing.
“This nonsense has gone long enough, it’s time for common sense and time to put passengers first,” Annis said. “I hope today’s decision will put an end to ticketing of drivers and Uber and that we can give our residents another transportation option, something we all want.”
Annis said she’s looking forward to using ride hailing herself here in Surrey, “the same way Vancouverites now use Uber and Lyft.“
She said she hopes the mayor “will start standing up for our 550,000 Surrey residents rather than a handful of taxi owners who’ve had a decades-long monopoly.”
She also wants pick-up and drop-off boundaries between cities eliminated, “providing a level playing field between taxis and ride-hailing companies.”
Bob Bose, a former Surrey mayor, did not mince words.
“Let us be clear about this,” Bose told the Now-Leader, “this was not Surrey’s position, but McCallum’s posturing alone. He failed to obtain council’s approval. Indeed, he failed to seek council’s sanctioning his actions, and the administration seems to have been acting on directives out of the mayor’s office.
Bose charged that McCallum “clearly over reached his authority and has exposed the City to potential damages. This is a policy issue, demanding council’s sanction.
“He, McCallum, has become an embarrassment for the City, regionally and nationally,” Bose said.
Meantime, Lyft announced Monday it will expand into North Surrey, with 88th Avenue being its southernmost boundary. Uber has a deeper reach into North Surrey, with its southernmost boundary being Highway 10 but also jogging down into Panorama Ridge and the Mud Bay area as far south as the Serpentine River.
Neither ride-hailing companies venture into South Surrey.
Peter Lukomskyj, general manager for Lyft in B.C., stated in a news release Monday that his company will “continue working hard to encourage additional drivers to join our community so we can continue to expand and serve riders and drivers where they are. We look forward to serving the full region as soon as we can.”