Legally, there is nothing stopping rideshare from setting up shop in North Bay.

That’s the word from the North Bay Police Services Board which says there is nothing in the current taxi bylaw that would stop rideshare from coming to the city.

“The bylaw doesn’t cover rideshare, just taxis,” said board chair Dennis O’Connor following the board’s regular meeting.

O’Connor notes that rideshare is appearing in many Ontario and Canadian communities and the local board began studying the matter about a year ago.

It hired the consulting firm BMA from Hamilton which specializes in taxi bylaws.

O’Connor says the board is waiting for a follow-up report from BMA after getting an initial report a while back.

O’Connor says it’s the board’s goal to encompass everyone under the bylaw.

O’Connor says although the board can’t stop rideshare from coming to North Bay, he’s reminding everyone that “we’re going to come out with a bylaw and that might affect someone who’s just starting up a program.”

“Rideshare is not under our jurisdiction now,” he said.

“But eventually it will come under our jurisdiction and it will have to report to our board.”

O’Connor says the rules governing rideshare would be similar to how taxis are legislated.

“The basic thing we’re looking for is health and safety,” he said.

One issue O’Connor is not ready to address just yet is what rideshare would charge its passengers.

“The rates are something I do not want to talk about right now because some areas don’t have set rates,” he said.

“They let the companies make their own rates.”

O’Connor says this is an area where the board needs more information.

However, O’Connor says the board wants a level playing field for all players.

“We’re not there yet with our knowledge on what the rate should be,” he said.

“That’s the second report we’re waiting for.”

O’Connor admits it’s a big challenge for the board to have one rate for taxis and another for rideshare.

Once BMA is ready with its findings, the plan is to hold a town hall meeting in North Bay.

Rideshare may one day end up in North Bay

Police Chief Shawn Devine says the meeting will include all stakeholders, including the cab companies, and the general public.

“Interested parties, including the cab companies, will be invited to come forward and present what they believe the changes should be,” Devine said.

After input has been gathered from everyone, Devine says BMA will be able to rewrite the existing bylaw.

Devine says it’s neither his nor the board’s intention to stop something like rideshare from coming to North Bay.

He believes the cabbies want everyone operating under the same rules and on the other side of the coin you have members of the public who want a different form of transportation.

Devine says this is the debate and the hope is the eventual bylaw can take as much as possible into account.