03/03/2016 14:57 EST | Updated 03/04/2017 00:12 EST

Mississauga city council unanimously votes to halt Uber operations

Canada's sixth largest city is making a big move to regulate Uber, with Mississauga city council voting unanimously Wednesday to halt the ride hailing service's operations in the city while council debates how to best deal with the service.

Councillors called the service part of an "underground economy," operating outside of the city's regulatory framework, city-mandated licensing and insurance.

"Innovation, technology, and growth are driving competition in an established industry," said Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie in a statement. "The debate about how to regulate [Uber] is not going away and we need to get it right." 

But many riders prefer the service, which offers a cheaper option for travel, and despite the vote, there's no guarantee Uber drivers will comply.

A report presented at the council meeting says  ride sharing companies continue to operate in the city unlicensed, with over 200 charges laid against drivers, vehicle owners and companies since the services began in Mississauga in the summer of 2012.

Toronto city council fought a similar battle last September, asking city staff to develop new rules to accommodate Uber in its taxi and limousine bylaws, with an added request that Uber cease operations until those rules are established.

But Uber has ignored that request and continues to operate. 

Mayor John Tory asked for "a level playing field" between traditional cabs and Uber, which have fought a tense battle for customers since the ride hailing service launched. 

In a report to Mississauga council, Uber argues it provides safe and reliable rides, and that proposed frameworks don't recognize a different business model.

"We've been working with officials in Mississauga and across Canada to update rules for ride sharing, just as we have in over 70 jurisdictions around the world," said Susie Heath, spokesperson for Uber Canada. 

"We look forward to continuing our work with officials in Mississauga to modernize regulations to encourage innovation, put people first and create safe, reliable and affordable transportation options."

Uber also says different rules in each GTA jurisdiction will create confusion, as over 100,000 Uber rides cross municipal boundaries each week.