NEWS

Uber showdown expected in city council, court in coming days

05/05/2015 04:58 EDT | Updated 05/05/2016 05:59 EDT
The stage is set for a showdown between the city and Uber, the popular American ride-sharing company.

The fight will take place in multiple venues.

Toronto has filed a legal motion to stop the company from operating — a case that will be heard in the coming days.

Meanwhile, the debate over Uber is set for city council on Wednesday.

This is all happening while both taxi drivers and Uber users plan to convene for a protest at Toronto City Hall.

"The bottom line for me is I'm going to continue to advocate for people, and people want choice," said Mayor John Tory at city hall on Tuesday.

Uber in court

Tory would prefer to delay the Uber debate in council until after a court rules on whether Uber services are legal to operate in Toronto. He previously said courts were a "blunt, expensive time-consuming instrument" that are "not really meant to resolve regulatory problems," but wants to defer to the court case involving Uber that the city filed in November.

The city is seeking an injunction to prevent the company from operating at all.

At the same time, Uber applied for a taxi brokerage licence on its regular service, but not for its UberX wing, which allows anyone with a car give rides to anyone who hails an Uber using its app.

The city's head of Licensing and Standards Tracy Cook said the court case should go on.

"Today's application by the ride-sharing company doesn't change much," she said.

A city injunction to see the company cease all its operations — taxi, limo and UberX service — is expecting to be heard by the courts in the next few days.

"The balance of their operation is still operating in an unlicensed manner and contrary to our bylaws," said Cook.

Uber at City Hall

Taxi companies have long complained Uber doesn't play by the rules and is pocketing profits, whereas they have to pay for costly licences.

Kristine Hubbard, who speaks for Beck Taxi, says this move to get a taxi license is simply a public relations stunt.

"The plan has always been to used the licence taxi list and move people over to their bandit taxi service," she said.

On Wednesday, a motion will be presented to council calling on the city to remove the Uber app from more than 10,000 Uber users in Toronto.

In response, Uber said it favours "comprehensive regulatory solution that includes ride-sharing."

Uber in protest

Taxi reform has been on the agenda this week at city hall, and groups of taxi drivers have come to the council chamber to make their voices heard. On Monday, there were no more seats due to the number of drivers in chamber.

Tory said he is not on the taxi driver's side, nor is he on Uber's side — he supports the passengers. "I'm going to continue to advocate for the people, the people want choice, they want lower prices, they want technology, they want convenience," he said.

In response to the debate, Uber has called on its users to attend a rally at Nathan Phillips Square on Wednesday.

The company will hand out "Toronto Loves Uber" T-shirts and signs which supporters can personalize to show support, it said in an email sent to Uber users.

MORE:cbcNews