Ridesharing became a reality within Saskatchewan on December 14th, months after unveiling the Vehicles for Hire Act. Bringing this option to the province is helpful in providing another option to residents to help combat impaired driving. Although the option is now available, it is up to each individual municipality to set their guidelines for issuing licenses and creating bylaws to allow the ridesharing option within their community. “After extensive consultation with numerous stakeholders – including rideshare and taxi companies, municipalities and law enforcement – SGI has developed a provincial framework that strikes a good balance between public demand and safety,” Minister Responsible for SGI Joe Hargrave said. “Ridesharing will provide Saskatchewan residents more ways to get around in the province, and another option for planning a safe ride home.”
By bringing this option to Saskatchewan, it will allow companies such as Uber and Lyft to operate. Drivers for ridesharing companies will have the option to use a commercial class license (Class 1-4) or a Class 5 license if they meet certain conditions. All drivers transporting passengers for hire will be required to pass annual criminal record checks and have their vehicles inspected annually. For those that may not be familiar with these companies, they work through an app on your smartphone, where you can book cars that are driven by hired people that utilize their own vehicles.
Drivers that opt to use a Class 5 license will be required to be an experienced driver with a safe driving record and are at least two years post the Graduated Driver Licensing program. Drivers must also have a satisfactory driver history with less than 12 points under the Driver Improvement Program in the past two years, and no impaired driving-related suspensions in the past ten years.
Taxi and limousine drivers will have the same driver’s license options as rideshare drivers. They can continue to transport passengers for hire using a Class 4 license, or they can use a Class 5 license if they meet the above requirements. Rideshare companies will be required to hold at least $1 million liability coverage for all affiliated drivers and vehicles.
Martensville began looking into ridesharing approximately one year ago with a survey to area residents looking for feedback with their personal opinions and concerns. “We knew that we were very interested in the service and think that it will be a good opportunity and a good service to be able to provide to local residents. The main thing that we wanted was to be able to provide different alternatives for people to travel, ensure competitive rates and perhaps even be a small boost for the local economy,” Dillon Shewchuk, Community Economic Development Manager explained.
Following the survey, Shewchuk stated that the feedback towards the ridesharing program was quite positive. From there, the City of Martensville began working on a Vehicle for Hire Bylaw that was finalized this summer. Once the provincial regulations were released, it was noted that modifications would be required to the Martensville bylaw. “We needed to ensure that it was consistent with the regulations the province set in place, and it was apparent that ours was too specific.” The amendments were brought to the December 11th Committee of the Whole meeting for direction, and Shewchuk is working on bringing the amendments to the December 18th Council meeting for final approval.
Shewchuk noted that this ties directly in with the recent work that the City of Martensville has been doing towards bringing in more seniors housing options. “Part of the reason that Martensville doesn’t have many seniors is partly housing, but also transportation. If there are no transportation options, they can’t stay in the community. They need places with transportation, or to be near places that offer the services that they require.”
With the plans that have been in the works for almost a year coming into fruition, Shewchuk thinks that the new option will provide a way for local residents to supplement their income. Interested drivers will be required to apply within each company directly and comply with their rules.
For more information, visit www.martensville.ca.