Uber and Taxi Licensing in the City of Toronto

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I believe that safe, efficient and affordable urban transportation is a cornerstone of building a great city.

As a transit rider, driver, cyclist, pedestrian and frequent taxi customer I understand that personal choice and convenience are paramount in selecting our most suitable mode of transportation on a daily basis. I believe in the merits of personal transportation choice and I have heard from hundreds of Ward 18 residents that Uber is a transportation choice they wish to have in Toronto.

Before Uber can become an officially accepted mode of transportation within The City of Toronto there are a number of processes that will need to take place. First, the City is proceeding with its legal challenge and will see Uber in court on May 19th. This hearing is being pursued by the City's Municipal Licensing & Standards Division on the basis that Uber entered the Toronto market while ignoring the City's licensing requirements. While Uber's entry into the Toronto transportation market was not well executed, I believe they are open to making changes and we have recently seen evidence of this.

Uber Canada formally applied for a taxi brokerage licence with the City of Toronto recently. This move indicated a departure from Uber's original stance that it is merely a technology company, as well as a willingness to work within the City's regulatory regime in some respects. This application will be considered after the court case is heard. I believe the company can do more to address the City's concerns about passenger safety and that the solutions may be found through a new regulatory framework.

Just as it is important for Uber to operate within the City's regulatory regime, it is also important for our regulatory regime to adapt to the realities of the 21st century. Mayor Tory has called for a people oriented solution to these issues through a modernization of City regulations and I also believe this is a direction we need to move in. I view this issue as a test-case and a huge opportunity for the City of Toronto. The pace of innovation in 21st century global cities is intensifying. In this instance, and in many more which are likely to come, we can practice smart and nimble accommodation of innovation. Hopefully through this process we will foster more innovative and solutions-oriented attitudes at the City of Toronto.

In the coming months the City will revisit its taxi industry standards and include Uber's services in this review. I look forward to this process, to promoting your interests as well as asking challenging questions along the way. As this issue continues to evolve, I look forward to an open dialogue with you. Please do not hesitate to contact me again with respect to this issue, or any other.

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