The head of Uber Canada says his service will remain in Toronto now that councillors have voted in favour of a package of regulations that effectively legalize ridesharing services.

Two weeks ago members of the licensing and standards committee rejected a number of proposed regulations that would have created a separate licensing category for ride-sharing services but on Tuesday Mayor Tory moved a motion at council reinstating most of those regulations while also making a number of changes to the initial guidelines prepared by city staff.

The changes include a new rule that would set a minimum price of $3.25 for all Uber X fares (the current base price is $2.50) as well as another rule that would allow taxis to use surge-pricing like Uber but only for fares that are booked through an online app.

The motion to set the minimum price at no lower than $3.25 carried 35-7.

The motion also stipulates that both taxis and Uber vehicles be outfitted with winter tires from Dec. 1 to March 15. It carried 27-15.

"We are deeply appreciative of the support we’ve had from the Toronto community. All of those people who spoke up in support of ride-sharing and certainly the leadership of the mayor," Uber Canada General Manager Ian Black said following the vote. “"We are appreciative of his leadership, appreciative that city council is moving ahead with this issue and now we are excited to get to the work of continuing to innovate transportation in Toronto without the constant regulatory debate."

Uber had previously warned that it would be forced to abandon its Toronto operations if council moved forward with the guidelines that the licensing and standards committee voted in favour of.

Now, the service will continue to operate and will be able to apply for a new licence class reserved for ridesharing services that will be known as “Private Transportation Companies.”

“I believe this motion represents the best possible way to do the two things I have talked about, which is to regulate these companies that have come into the marketplace and to make sure that the taxi industry can survive and thrive going forward,” Tory said on Tuesday afternoon, as he tabled the amended motion.

Representatives for the taxi industry have said that the initial package of guidelines effectively created a two-tiered system where taxi drivers would be held to one set of rules and Uber drivers would be held to a different set of rules.

Tory said the framework “most closely follows” the advice of staff while also taking into account feedback from the public.

One of the other substantial changes covered by the amendments includes a move to require that all drivers for ridesharing services submit documentation to the city for approval, including a copy of their driver’s license, vehicle inspection reports and insurance. Previously the guidelines required only that drivers submit such documentations to the ridesharing service.

Discussing the amendments with CP24 on Tuesday afternoon, Toronto Taxi Alliance spokesperson Sam Moini said he needs more time to look into them and determine whether or not they are fair.

Moini, however, said he is pleased to see a standard minimum fare of $3.25 for both taxis and Uber vehicles.

“I think it is important that everyone follows the same rules. The $3.25 fee is standard for the taxi drivers so it should be for Uber too,” he said.

Crowd packs council meeting

Dozens of advocates for the taxi industry and Uber packed the chamber for Tuesday’s debate.

Uber supporters wore blue shirts while taxi supporters mostly wore yellow shirts that read ‘No two-tiered system.”

At one point, former city councillor Doug Ford showed up in the chamber and put on one of the yellow shirts to show his support for the taxi industry.

Ford, however, told reporters that his appearance was not a “political move” and had nothing to do with him possibly seeking to replace the late Rob Ford on council.

“I don’t need to have a political move. These are people (taxi drivers) who have supported us for 16 years and I am here to support them any way I can,” he said.

“I don’t believe Uber should even be here. It is like me driving down the street and just picking people up. It’s totally unfair.”

Dozens of speakers

A total of 69 people addressed council at today’s meeting, including numerous representatives from the taxi industry.

One of those speakers, ITaxiworkers President Sajid Mughal, told CP24 that he was hopeful that council will ultimately pass a package of regulations that are different than the ones initially brought forward by city staff last month.

“It will be absolutely different because most councillors have their own opinions. There will be motion after motion after motion and by the end it will be entirely different from what came from the committee and what came from the staff,” he said. “I think in the end wisdom will prevail and the consumer will win and the cab driver will win.”