The debate over how — or even whether — to update Ottawa's Taxi By-law is among the most contentious issues tackled by City Hall in recent memory, thanks to the guerilla actions of ride-sharing company Uber. At the heart of the discussion: The decision to open Ottawa's private transportation sector to "personal transportation companies" (PTCs), and the public's apparent dissatisfaction with various aspects of the taxi industry.
There has been much public pressure to find ways to allow innovators such as Uber to operate legally in Ottawa. Uber, a multinational corporation that first came to Ottawa in 2014, connects riders with freelance drivers at a (usually) lower price than what the City requires registered taxis to charge. As in other cities, the company got its foot in the door by ignoring the existing Taxi By-law — or rather, by claiming that it does not apply because Uber is a technology company, not a transportation company — and by paying the fines racked up by drivers caught violating the by-law.