April 24th, 2009
It has been a long hard struggle but today is a good day. The Ontario Government voted on Bill 118 which amends the Public Vehicle Act to not include carpool vehicles under its jurisdiction.
What does this mean? This means we WON!
Reasonable Carpooling and Ridsharing in Ontario is now legal. You can now give someone a ride and receive compensation to cover your costs. I know it seems crazy that we had to fight to get this law changed but we did and this law that has historically shut down so many carpooling and ridesharing initiatives in Ontario is now a thing of the past!
A huge thanks to all of you who signed the petition and contacted your local MPP’s and worked with us to get the law changed.
For more information on the law and the status go to:
Bill 118 - look at the bottom - Section 3
November 12th, 2008
Well we got our ruling from the Ontario Highway Transportation Board (OHTB) and they say that it is illegal to Rideshare in Ontario, (here is the official decision [PDF 0.98 MB]).
The only way you can ride with someone is if you meet ALL of the following extremely impractical set of specific criteria:
- You must travel from home to work only – (Not Home to School, or Home to the Hospital or the Airport)
- You cannot cross municipal boundaries – (Live outside the city and drive in – sorry you cannot share the ride with your neighbour)
- You must ride with the same driver each day – (Want to mix it up go with one person one day and another person another day – no sorry cannot do that – must be same person each day)
- You must pay the driver no more frequently than weekly – (Neighbour drives you to work better not pay her right away just in case she drives you later on in the week)
I know you are reading these restrictions and are saying to yourself that there is no way it can be this strict, but unfortunately it is. PickupPal was charged and fined for facilitating a ride from Toronto to Montreal for $60, the crime – our PickupPal member crossed municipal boundaries. How much did we make off of this ride - nothing 100% free as always - how much were we fined $11,336.07, (and that does not include our own legal fees to defend PickupPal in court).
Our issue all along has been with the Ontario Government and that the laws need to change. Ontario is the only jurisdiction in the 104 Countries that PickupPal has members in that has this type of antiquated laws about citizens traveling together on the books. Because of all of the attention that we have brought to this issue the Ontario Government has tabled an amendment to the definition of what constitutes a Pubic Vehicle. What they are in effect doing is bringing their transportation laws in line with the rest of the Provinces in Canada and jurisdictions around the world. We applaud the government for suggesting these changes however the legislation has not been amended yet and there is still a chance that it may get dropped.
We urge all PickupPal members and Ontario residents to voice their concerns with the Premier to ensure that the amendment passes. Tell Dalton McGuinty how you feel HERE and make sure the government does not go back on their word.
So the next question that must be asked is how does PickupPal plan on moving forward. First and foremost let us be clear, PickupPal operates around the world and we have no intention whatsoever to suspend our service to our thousands of members worldwide who rely on us daily. As it relates to traveling in Ontario we are sending out an e-mail notification to all of our members in Ontario informing them of the OHTB decision. We are also putting a notification on our website to everyone traveling in Ontario that they must abide by the current carpooling laws. We are looking into ways to determine which rides comply and which do not and will be implementing a system to inform those that they are in contravention of the law.
Having gone through this struggle to have the laws changed and to fight for the environment I am asked regularly if I thought it was worth the hassle - and my answer is a resounding YES! I am so proud of all the people who signed the petition, wrote articles, told their friends, sent us notes of encouragement and support giving us the courage to fight this fight. Because the bottom line is that if we want change we have to fight for it and if the government is not going to help then it is time that we stand up and fight for our right to try and find solutions to stop global warming and get people double up and cut down on CO2. We may have lost this specific battle but if the law gets changed then we have won the war and that is what counts at the end of the day!
Cheers - Eric
October 28th, 2008
This just in - the Ontario Government is introducing changes to the Public Vehicles Act to allow for Ridesharing!
Part of Minister Bradley’s mandate to make Ontario’s roads safe by banning the use of cellphones while driving, he is also making Ontario’s roads green by allowing practical ridesharing in Ontario.
The legislation still needs to work its way through the various procedures, however with a Liberal Majority in Ontario’s Provincial Government we do not see how this amendment will not make it onto the laws books. All we need now is for the OHTB to drop the charges against us and we can move forward!
To all of you who stood beside us and gave us the encouragement to take on the laws - We Thank You!
We are keeping our fingers crossed but this is very good news!
October 15th, 2008
Well we had our day in court, we presented our side of the story and left it in the hands of the OHTB. To be brutally honest I have no idea how it is going to go, PickupPal was referred to as HAL from 2001 Space Odyssey so as to put what we do in context for the OHTB. Using a reference to a movie that came out before I was born, (Stanley Kubrick 1968), was definitely not something I thought we were going to be faced with - but hey we shall see how it goes.
I will reserve my judgment until the OHTB judgment is made and that should be within a few weeks. While waiting for a decision, we are going to push the the Ministry of Transportation to move swiftly to get the amendments that they indicated to us that the Minister will be making to the Public Vehicles Act that will allow PickupPal to operate legally within Ontario.
Cheers - Eric
October 14th, 2008
This entire fight for the right to Rideshare in Ontario has been very amazing. As I head out with John tomorrow to our hearing I am filled with conviction from reading all of the thousands of comments from across Ontario and around the World, (2,167 to be exact). We have closed the Petition and have gathered up the signatures and will be heading off to Toronto to deliver them tomorrow.
I am very grateful to everyone who signed our petition and lent their support, it means a lot to all of us at PickupPal and we will push on with the courts to get these laws changed. I will update this blog at the end of the day tomorrow following our first day at the OHTB to let you all know how it is going.
Cheers - Eric
October 9th, 2008
We are less than a week away from our time before the Ontario Highway Transportation Board (OHTB). The hearing will commence at 10:00 a.m. on October 15th. at the offices of the OHTB (9th. Floor, 151 Bloor Street West, Toronto). I have been informed that this is a Public Hearing and anyone can attend - however seating seems to be limited to approximately 20 people. No doubt this will be a full house as I have chatted with reporters who said that since our hearing is the day after the Federal Election that this will be a topical issue.
So the question a lot of people have been asking me is what do I think is going to happen? Well I have never been to or in front of one of these hearings before and all I know is that we have the support of thousands of residents of Ontario, the Press and even the Ministry of Transportation. What has been interesting throughout this entire experience is that I have witnessed the power of getting people together to speak up for their rights. What has been encouraging is to see the Minister of Transportation Jim Bradley step up to the plate and agree with us that it is time that the laws change, (CBC Article).
We have faith in the OHTB and believe that given the clear support that PickupPal has it is time to stop shutting down Ridesharing sites and do the right thing. As for who will be at the hearing, John Stewart and Myself (Eric Dewhirst) will be there. Our legal counsel representing PickupPal will be our awesome lawyers at Heenan Blaikie, (George J. Karayannides and Matthew Diskin). Representing Trentway-Wagar will be the law firm of WeirFoulds LLP, (I believe Robert B. Warren and possibly others but I don’t know). I am hopeful that the Chair of the OHTB, Gary Stanley will be there. I have reviewed many of his past decisions and he appears to be a fair and honorable man so I look forward to his review.
Cheers - Eric
September 1st, 2008
I woke up this morning to a great article by Michael Geist in the Toronto Star - “Network economy changes the rules“. The article talks specifically about PickupPal and about how technology has advanced significantly whereby the Internet brings an opportunity for collective social engagement that has never been seen before. With this new opportunity is the reality that the game has changed and yet the legislation in Ontario has not caught up with this new reality and we find ourselves in the middle of an issue that threatens to shut down a 100% free, environmentally friendly service for all Ontario residents. It is a thought provoking piece that makes me think of one of my favourite Bob Dylan songs - “The time they are a changin!“.
Cheers - Eric
August 28th, 2008
As you know we have a petition on the save.pickuppal.com site, (click here). The petition is the voice of everyone who cares deeply about this issue. Some are PickupPal members, some are simply concerned citizens from Ontario who heard about this issue and decided to speak out and some are from other countries voicing the views from their perspective. Before comments are posted, (you can see them here), I review them to see what people are saying. And to be very honest, it moves me, it boosts my spirits and it make me realize that what we are trying to do is the right thing. I don’t like conflict and I don’t want to challenge the Government just for the sake of it. However when I read all of the hundreds of notes and see page after page of signatures of people who took the time to voice their concern and show that they feel like me - frustrated and shocked - with our Government, it gives me a real sense of duty.
To all of you that have signed the petition, I thank you, and I will think of you all as I stand with John at the hearing and fight for all of our rights on October 15th.
Cheers - Eric
August 19th, 2008
In an attempt to be as upfront and clear as to what transpired and how it all came together I thought it might be interesting to post some of the background legal and supporting documents.
Ontario Highway Transportation Board (OHTB) cover letter informing us that Trentway-Wagar wants the board to shut us down - 250KB
Trentway-Wagar’s request to shut PickupPal down - 2.3 MB
Affidavit from the undercover Private Investigator that used PickupPal to ride from Toronto to Montreal for $60 - 8.2 Mb
PickupPal’s response to the OHTB - 112 KB
Trentway-Wagar’s lawyers response to the OHTB regarding our counter claim- 565 KB
Conversation between PickupPal member and undercover Private Investigator posing as a PickupPal passenger in need of a ride - 86 KB
The route that the PickupPal driver took to pickup the undercover Private Investigator - 86 KB
Document showing that the OHTB has the final say and that unless the laws change Reasonable Ride Sharing will remain illegal in Ontario - 772 KB
Ontario Legislation - Public Vehicles Act. Definitions of the various terms discussed in the material posted on this site.
As more documents become available I will post them to this blog.
Cheers - Eric