Uber Legalized In Ottawa Over Taxi Drivers' Protests

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Uber has been given the green light by the City of Ottawa two years after it started operating illegally in Canada's capital city.

"For the first time, there will be competition," Mayor Jim Watson said Wednesday after council passed a new bylaw, according to The Ottawa Citizen.

"It will make the industry better and it will give the public what they have been asking for."

But not everyone is happy about the news. The city has faced vehement opposition from taxi associations over the issue.

The Citizen quoted one taxi driver at the meeting saying, "I can't believe the city is ruining our lives."

CBC News reporter Chloe Fedio captured someone at the council meeting saying, "These are families you're breaking up!"

Uber is being legalized as part of an effort to create a dual licensing system in the capital city, which comes into effect on Sept. 30.

The ride-sharing company will operate illegally until that day.

The system requires both cabbies and Uber drivers to obtain $2 million in insurance coverage, after the city's legal department had recommended minimum coverage of $5 million.

But it's the requirement that taxis — and not Uber drivers — have cameras in their vehicles that has proven to be a point of contention for cabbies.

Security cameras have been required for cabbies in Ottawa since 2008, CBC News reported. The devices have increasingly helped police solve robbery and homicide cases.

The cameras are meant for cabs when they pick up passengers and provide the option of paying in cash, Uber Canada spokesman Chris Schafer previously told a city committee.

In other words, he suggests they're unnecessary in Uber rides, for which you pay through an app.

Nevertheless, the city will re-examine whether Uber cars will require cameras in a year.

The bylaw comes after an anti-Uber campaign secretly recorded cabbies calling out drivers for operating without licences.

A YouTube video from last year showed cabbies asking questions to an Uber driver in his car.

Ottawa's mayor reacted to the video by saying he doesn't support "vigilantism," adding the cabbie did a "disservice to the hardworking cab drivers" in the city.

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Ottawa taxi drivers 'livid' after Uber legalization recommended - CBC