Late last month, Edmonton became the first city in Canada to legalize Uber. As a company that operates in the sharing economy, we saw this as a tremendous step forward. It was made all the more exciting by the fact that Edmonton-based companies like Squid Arms and instaMek were already making major waves in their respective sectors. We saw it as yet another signal that Edmonton could become a leader in Canada’s burgeoning sharing economy.
Unfortunately, it seems that the cliché ‘one step forward two steps back’ applies now more than ever. On March 1st, Uber suspended operations in Edmonton after the Government of Alberta failed to make insurance available to drivers in the City. The Edmonton Twittersphere erupted in a firestorm of outrage, almost all of it directed towards the Alberta Government and its refusal to allow Edmonton voters access to a service that they rely upon and that their City already drafted and approved specific regulations to oversee.
2015 was Alberta’s worst year for job losses since 1982. Thousands of Albertans have been left out of work and businesses all over the province are shutting down as low oil prices. Now is not the time to regulate businesses out of existence. It seems that Premier Rachel Notely agrees with the need to work with the private sector; however, the actions of her government in shutting down Uber and effectively putting thousands of Albertans out of work say otherwise.
We recognize the need for regulations that protect the public’s interest. But we also believe that this City has the talent and resources to pioneer the on demand sharing economy and become a national leader.
Hear SnowTapp founder Terry Song give his take on the situation on CBC Edmonton. (Skip to 0:29)