Mayor Doug McCallum defended the decision to fight ride-hailing, saying the city has a right to enforce its bylaws.
Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum said bylaw officers will be stepping up enforcement against ride-hailing drivers picking up passengers in his city, pitting him against provincial regulations, Uber and some members of his own council.
McCallum told reporters that bylaw officers hailed rides through the Uber app and gave 18 warning notices to drivers on the weekend because the company does not have a business licence. Uber, the company, was issued two $500 tickets — one for each day.
He said that the grace period is over and drivers will be fined if they are caught picking up passengers in Surrey. Daily fines will also continue to be levied against Uber.
McCallum said Monday that he supports ride-hailing, but it’s a service he doesn’t want in Surrey until there is parity between the rules governing ride-hailing and taxi companies. He defended the city’s right to enforce its bylaws how it sees fit.
“Ride-hailing, in a regulated industry, has a very unfair advantage. Government has a role to play and I would argue has a responsibility to ensure there is fair competition between the taxi service industry and the ride-hailing components,” McCallum told reporters.
The city has not developed a business licence specific to ride-hailing, like the ones in Vancouver, Burnaby, Delta, Richmond and the Tri-Cities.
According to the B.C. Ministry of Transportation, a municipality can set requirements for business licences for ride-hail operators, but doesn’t have the authority to block the operation of ride-hailing services.
“The absence of a bylaw or business licence in specific municipalities related to ride-hailing is not grounds for refusal of the service,” the ministry said in an emailed statement. The ministry did not say what would happen if a municipality did stand in the way of ride-hailing companies operating in their jurisdiction.
McCallum said Uber is welcome to apply for a business licence like the one that taxi companies must obtain. Taxi companies pay $161.75 a year for a Surrey business licence, plus $441.50 for each taxi. He did not say how long it would take to get such a licence.
McCallum said when it comes to the city developing its own business licence, they need to wait and see what happens regionally. He said council has not had the opportunity to talk about ride-hailing because they had no notice that operating licences would be issued.
At least three councillors, none of whom are part of McCallum’s majority Safe Surrey Coalition, disagreed with the city’s tactic.
Coun. Brenda Locke said she was “blindsided” by what happened over the weekend.
“I think it’s appalling and not in keeping with the spirit of whatever this legislation is going to be moving forward by the province,” Locke said. “I don’t know why Surrey would choose to be so aggressive about it at this time. We know we’re moving into a ride-sharing world and that’s a good thing for Surrey.”
Locke has asked city staff if a legal opinion was sought before bylaw staff took action against Uber, but has not received a response.
Two Vancouver lawyers agreed that the bylaw officers’ actions in this case don’t constitute entrapment, unless maybe the driver was summoned from another municipality. Dean Davison, whose firm specializes in municipal law, said the city is breaching a section of the Community Charter that states a provision of a municipal bylaw has no effect if it is inconsistent with a provincial enactment.
Coun. Jack Hundial took an Uber on Saturday from his home in Newton to city hall. He said warning or ticketing drivers will discourage them from working in the city, which is bad for those trying to earn a buck and for residents who want to use the service.
Hundial said council was supposed to receive a report about ride-hailing last fall, but the issue has not been raised with council since.
“We’ve yet to see it. This hasn’t really come before council as a discussion point yet,” said Hundial.
Coun. Linda Annis called on the mayor and city staff to ensure ride-hailing is available in the city.
“We’ve all waited long enough, it’s time to get on with it,” Annis said in a news release. “The monopoly of the tax owners is over and Surrey residents should have the same access to Uber and Lyft as Vancouverites. I want assurances from the mayor and our city staff that there will be no more obstacles and that our residents can access this new transportation option immediately. I’m hoping the mayor will stand up for 550,000 Surrey residents, rather than a handful of taxi company owners who have had a monopoly for decades.”
Annis and others support a regional ride-hailing business licence, which is being developed by TransLink at the behest of the Mayors’ Council. It’s expected to be drafted within the next week, at which time it will go to Metro Vancouver municipal councils for consideration. Participation in the regional licence will be voluntary.
McCallum voted against such a licence, although he seemed to go back on that position on Monday and claimed he is involved in coming up with a regional model.
According to Michael van Hemmen, Uber’s head of Western Canada, the company and its drivers have the required approvals from the province and the Passenger Transportation Board to operate in Metro Vancouver.
“We do not believe there is any legal basis for drivers to be fined by the City of Surrey,” he said in an emailed statement.
The company did not say, when asked, who would be responsible for paying — the company or the driver — if a fine was levied.
British Airways to halt Beijing, Shanghai flights – PaxEx.Aero
As health concerns mount and waiver options grow some airlines are going a step further in their response to the virus outbreak in China. British Airways is taking the significant step of halting its flights to Shanghai and Beijing effective immediately. A formal announcement is expected early Wednesday in London.
Based on documents reviewed by PaxEx.Aero the carrier’s flights BA39 and BA169 on 28 January 2020 will be the last flights in for a month. The crew working those flights will return as passengers and all downline crew will also return on the BA38 and BA168 flights leaving China on 29 January.
The statement set by airline executives to crewmembers reads, in part:
The situation regarding the new coronavirus in China is constantly developing and tonight the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office position has changed, advising against all but essential travel to China. As you would expect, this situation has been monitored constantly for the last week and updates have been provided for our colleagues on the One portal. A contingency group has met again tonight (Tuesday) to define a plan and there will be a further operational update early on Wednesday.
The safety of our colleagues remains our priority. The aircraft currently airborne to PVG and PKX will return with all crew currently downroute in these locations… For our Chinese crew based in PKX and PVG who are currently on trips in London, we are making arrangements to get you home.
The company also notes in the memo that it is monitoring other stations in the region but will continue to operate those routes for now.
Inventory on flights through 29 February appears to be zeroed out indicating that the carrier expects the cuts to last at least that long.
The news follows on United Airlines announcing earlier today that it will cull 24 flights to Shanghai, Beijing and Hong Kong in the coming week.
The British Airways news is far more significant given the depth and duration of the cuts. It surpasses the waivers that had been issued by many airlines and the move by the Chinese government to curtail all group travel packages out of the country. The cuts are likely to increase in the coming days as more countries issue similar statements advising against travel to the region.
24-year-old credits free Ontario program for helping her overcome anxiety and depression – CTV News
Time and money – along with stigma – are often cited as barriers to getting treatment for mental health. But, a program called BounceBack addresses all those concerns.
For 24-year old Shealyn Ivany, it turned out to be the only formal type of mental health treatment she needed after she graduated from the University of Toronto in 2017.
“A lot of my anxiety and depression was situational at that time, because of the uncertainty that I felt in my life and within myself.”
She had always been a high achiever in school but was unable to find a fulfilling job after university and fell into depression.
A solo trip to Banff, Alta. gave her time for introspection and confidence that she could succeed with some help.
Her physician referred her to BounceBack, a phone-based service for anyone above the age of 15.
BounceBack helps people with mild to moderate anxiety or depression, or even those having difficulty with stress. Clients can be referred by a doctor or be self-referred. The program began in British Columbia and was brought to Ontario five years ago.
Rebecca Shields, CEO of the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) in York Region said “this is a program that they can access over the phone and they get connected to a coach who can help them work through an individualized program.”
Clients call in and set up an appointment to talk with their own personal “coach,” who will teach them CBT – Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.
CBT is a method of modifying one’s thinking and behaviour to reduce anxiety. To attend an in-person session on this method can cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars, which is money Ivany didn’t have as a newly graduated student. Furthermore, she was concerned about the amount of time and travel that might be involved in seeking treatment.
BounceBack is free – managed by the CMHA. Coaches are available between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. on weekdays and between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. on weekends. As well, since it is done over the phone, it’s discreet and there’s no travel time involved.
Clients are given a series of workbooks, chosen specifically to address their own individual problems, such as difficulty sleeping or being assertive.
“I like to think of it as guided self-help” Ivany said. “So you check in with your BounceBack coach every month but for the majority of the time it’s just you with these worksbooks that address areas you want to work on.”
She spent five months doing the BounceBack program and says she’s doing fine now. She writes and speaks about mental health to groups and she’s started her own website – livingembrace.ca – to give hope to others.
As she contemplates the importance of Bell Let’s Talk Day, she says “I love how these initiatives bring attention to the topic in such a widespread way on days like Bell Let’s Talk Day but for me, I really believe this is something we need to talk about every other day of the year as well.”
Why are staff blowing whistles at every LRT station? A faulty camera system: sources – Ottawa Citizen
To signal the all-clear, the platform staff blow a whistle and the train starts rolling. This is supposed to repeat before every train leaves every station whenever the Confederation Line is operating.
Reliability issues with the Confederation Line’s camera system have necessitated the full-time installation of whistle-blowing platform staff at every one of Ottawa’s LRT stations to ensure trains depart safely, this newspaper has learned.
According to multiple people with knowledge of its operations, the light rail system is equipped with cameras that feed into a display in the operator’s cab, offering a view of the train doors and surrounding platform area while at a station. Sources said that the camera system is unreliable and has failed to operate at times.
As a safety measure, staff have been contracted at every station to ensure no one remains in the yellow hazard area at the edge of the platform once the doors have closed. To signal the all-clear, the platform staff blow a whistle and the train starts rolling. This is supposed to repeat before every train leaves every station whenever the Confederation Line is operating.
According to sources, who were granted anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media, there’s no concrete end date for the use of whistling officials to clear trains for departure.
It’s unclear how often the camera system falters or how long it will take to fix.
Rideau Transit Group, which built the LRT system, did not acknowledge emailed questions and a voicemail on Tuesday.
In a statement, Ottawa’s director of transit operations Tony Charter said the whistle-blowing “spotters” are on the platforms to provide “redundancy” for the camera system as a safety precaution for LRT users.
“As with any new system, there can be intermittent technical issues and, as such, mitigation measures were implemented prior to the launch of revenue service to help minimize any potential impacts to service,” Charter said.
It’s been a rough ride for the Confederation Line in recent weeks when it comes to equipment reliability. On Monday, Ottawa’s transportation general manager John Manconi reported that the light rail vehicles appear more prone to power loss during “wet or inclement weather,” and that the root cause of this is under investigation.
Meanwhile, some train wheels have developed flat spots that need to be rounded out. Track switches have also been problem-plagued.
In a transit commission meeting last week, the chief executive of RTG’s maintenance arm said the company has been consumed with reacting to problems rather than studying day-to-day operational issues.
This led to the hiring of JBA Corp., international rail experts brought on to examine a dozen issues flagged by the city about LRT maintenance. The consultants have been helping the City of Ottawa’s transportation department figure out if RTG is off track with the maintenance program, and now RTG, which is a partnership of ACS Infrastructure, EllisDon and SNC-Lavalin, has hired the consultants to fix troubles related to LRT upkeep.
JBA has experience with Alstom trains and infrastructure.
-With files from Jon Willing
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