Ridesharing companies such as Uber and Lyft will be eligible to operate in Kelowna starting in the new year.
So far the province has received nine applications from ridesharing companies to operate in the Central Okanagan region after the province introduced legislation to regulate the taxi industry earlier this year.
While Uber and Lyft have not yet applied to operate in the Okanagan, companies have been free to apply since Sept. 3.
On Monday, Kelowna city council rescinded a bylaw that prohibited ride-sharing programs in the city, paving the way for residents to begin using the more cost-effective services as early as Jan. 1 2020.
While ride-sharing has a reputation of being a cheaper means of transportation, companies such as Uber and Lyft have often been accused of causing congestion in city centers that have introduced the service.
Councillor Loyal Wooldridge said he does not believe ride-sharing will have a negative impact on the City of Kelowna or threaten the jobs of taxi drivers.
“It will have no effect on the cab drivers at all,” said Wooldridge.
“To be honest I think they are going to have issues finding drivers. The legislation is requiring a class 4 drivers license to operate, which is similar to Alberta, but other provinces haven’t followed suit. I know Metro Vancouver is not at the number of drivers that they want to see in terms of frequency and access. Congestion is definitely a concern (for Kelowna) but given the current parameters I anticipate that it won’t necessarily be an issue.”
The B.C. government has implemented some regulations for the new industry, including requiring drivers to provide a criminal background check, driving record checks, and banning drivers with four or more pointable convictions within two-years.
In addition, non-accessible ride-sharing vehicles will be charged a fee of 30 cents per trip to support funding for accessibility programs.