Local tech leaders want ridesharing allowed in B.C., write open letter to provincial government

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Hot on the heels of the launch of the first BC Tech Summit, members of the local tech community have band together to voice their concern for the lack of ridesharing regulation in British Columbia, and they’ve penned an open letter to Premier Christy Clark and Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Todd Stone.

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SEE ALSO: Computer coding added to B.C. school curriculum as part of tech strategy

“We are hoping the province takes the action that’s needed for ridesharing to become legal in British Columbia,” Kelsey Hannan, founder of Critical Pulse Inc., told Vancity Buzz. “Right now that can’t happen due to regulation issues like with ICBC controlling car insurance. We want the province to modify or work with ridesharing agencies to work these issues… It’s just on the province to play ball with them.”

The open letter to Christy Clark and Todd Stone:

As part of the tech community in British Columbia, we are deeply committed to continuing to build our province up as a world leader in innovation. As such, we are compelled to express our concern regarding the provincial government’s long­standing inaction on ridesharing regulation in B.C.­­ and how we now find ourselves falling behind the rest of the world.

When it comes to tech and innovation, Vancouver ranks in the top 20 in the world, sitting at the same table as Seattle, Austin, New York, and yes, even San Francisco. With forces like Hootsuite, Slack, and Plentyoffish at the helm, we attribute this to having a culture that fosters innovation, entrepreneurship, and new ideas. Kelowna and Victoria also have growing tech clusters, with companies such FreshGrade, Club Penguin, and AbeBooks making massive impacts in representing their respective communities, and we’re seeing connections grow internationally thanks to events such as TractionConf and metabridge.

It is not lost on us as citizens of a province and city that prides itself in being called “Silicon Valley North,” that Vancouver remains the largest metropolitan area in North America without ridesharing. (Yes­­ we’re referring to the Ubers, the Lyfts, and the local startups that help us get around safely, quickly and affordably.) And both here at home in Canada and around the world, governments are taking the steps necessary to allow ridesharing services while the Province of British Columbia has chosen to do nothing.

With the cost of living skyrocketing, and the wet winter months having arrived, now more than ever, we’re in need of more reliable and affordable transportation options. And yet we’ve shut our doors to a revolutionary solution that will take cars off the road, and collectively save us thousands of dollars every month in parking and fuel costs.

Yes, change is disruptive. But as with all new ideas, in the long run our citizens, our communities and our province will benefit by leaps and bounds. They will have another option to get home safely on a rainy Saturday night. They will have new income opportunities. And, B.C.’s entrepreneurs will be encouraged that their own disruptive ideas will not be needlessly blocked by outdated regulations.

Ridesharing is available in 67 countries and over 360 cities around the world. It’s time the province makes space for it here in B.C.

Sincerely yours,

Ray Walia, Co­Founder & CEO, Launch Academy
Alex Chuang, Co­Founder & CSO, Launch Academy
Stewart Butterfield, CEO & Co­Founder, Slack
Boris Wertz, Founder & General Partner, Version One Ventures
Leonard Brody, President, Clarity Digital
Jeff Booth, President & CEO, BuildDirect.com
Shafin Diamond Tejani, Alchemist, Victory Square Labs
Shahrzad Rafati, Founder & CEO, BroadbandTV Corp
Jeremy Shaki, Co­Founder & Chief Talking Officer, Lighthouse Labs
Ian Crosby, CEO, Bench
Tanis Jorge, Co­Founder, Trulioo
Kelsey Hannan, Founder, Critical Pulse Inc.
Cybele Negris, Co­Founder & CEO, Webnames.ca
Steve Wandler, Co­Founder, FreshGrade
Andrew Reid, Founder & President, Vision Critical
Roger Hardy, Chairman, Hardy Capital Partners
Hamed Shahbazi, CEO, TIO Networks
Joshua Nilson, CEO & Co­Founder, East Side Games
Kenshi Arasaki, Co­Founder, A Thinking Ape
Michael Gokturk, Founder & CEO, Payfirma
Nathan Gilliland, CEO, General Fusion
Jason Smith, CEO, Klue
Scott Hawthorn, CEO, Native Shoes
Vern Brownell, CEO, D­Wave Systems Inc.
Praveen Varshney, Co-Founder and Advisor, G-Kup Technology Corp

via Shutterstock

SEE ALSO: Province announces full BC Tech Strategy including coding education curriculum

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