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MaRS to make recommendations for Uber, Airbnb to city council

Last Updated Apr 1, 2016 at 10:21 am EDT

Two levels of government have teamed up with MaRS Solutions Lab to try to find a way to regulate controversial shared services like Uber and Airbnb.

Over the years, shared services have gained tremendous popularity across the city and have stirred up debate over their place among similarly-regulated industries.

Both the provincial government and the city of Toronto turned to MaRS to help better understand how these industries can exist in the current legal system and how they can level the playing field for currently regulated companies.

“The rising popularity of the sharing economy is not only disrupting existing markets, like transportation and accommodation, but it is also forcing governments to rethink regulation for these and other affected markets,” MaRS said in its report.

“The key challenge for cities is not just to know how to respond, but how to help build a sharing economy that benefits the city,” the report continued.

Taxi drivers across the city have openly expressed their anger at Uber’s presence in the GTA, clogging city streets in protest and demanding government step in to properly regulate the ridesharing service.

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In January Uber was granted a City of Toronto taxi brokerage licence, putting it on equal ground as regulated taxi companies such as Beck and Royal.

Regarding Uber, among the suggestions in the report are – set up a fee structure for a transportation network company and another for drivers, require all brokerages to properly screen all drivers with background checks and driving history, lower the cost of commercial insurance for taxicabs, and deregulating pricing to create a fair level playing field for all drivers.

When it comes to home sharing such as Airbnb, the report suggests implementing a condition that the home be used as a primary residence a maximum of 180 days per year, and piloting condominium regulation models which would be an independent set of building regulations allowed by the Condominium Act that all condo dwellers must abide.

“Governments and other stakeholders should not just think of the sharing economy as something to respond to,” the report reads. “They should think about what kind of sharing economy they want, and then develop a proactive strategy that helps build that sharing economy.”

The report will be presented at the city council meeting next week.

To read the complete report click here.