Uber drivers would face fines, court challenges in Cornwall: police chief

A Cornwall taxi driver waits in his cab at the Eastcourt Mall terminal. Cornwall's police chief says Uber drivers would face fines and possible court challenges if they try to set up in Cornwall. (Cornwall Newswatch)

CORNWALL – Cornwall’s police chief says this city would handle the ride-sharing company Uber much like the nation’s capital. Uber connects drivers with private cars with people looking for ride via a cell phone app. In Ottawa, two drivers were fined this week for $650 each for breaking the taxi bylaw. It was done during a sting operation, conducted by the city.

“The existence of this sort of service is in direct contravention to the (Cornwall Police Service) board’s bylaw governing taxis. We feel we would have a fairly simple task of following up through our bylaws to issue charges of breaching that bylaw,” said Dan Parkinson.

The fines in Cornwall can be up to $2,000 and those would be issued by police as the city’s bylaw enforcement division doesn’t handle the taxi bylaw.

The Uber issue has been “percolating” in Ottawa since the Cornwall Police Service Board last met in early September. The board doesn’t sit down again until November. “I don’t anticipate raising it (Uber) at our next board meeting unless something happens in town here,” Parkinson said.

The police chief doesn’t anticipate a big interest from people looking to make money by getting into the cell phone app ride-sharing service. “I don’t know if the people who are looking to make a quick buck are the people who can see this thing through a court challenge,” he said.

Parkinson says the taxi bylaw has withstood other court challenges, such as not being able to run a cab company solely on cell phones (you have to have a two-way radio system). “That’s not going to happen with private citizens running around in their own cars out there,” he said.

With Uber in more than 200 cities, the chief acknowledges the ride-share app is gathering momentum. But he believes it will be more popular in large urban centers than in a location like Cornwall. The Seaway City has two cab brokers and no more than 56 taxi licenses.

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