With a slew of new restrictions on the shared e-scooter program in Kelowna, three of the four companies offering the service are likely on their way out.
Council heard Monday (June 28) several new restrictions planned for the program, some of which may not be possible for all operators by the tight June 30 deadline.
The mandated changes include banning shared scooters from the waterfront walkway between the City Park underpass and the Rotary Marsh, as well as the Bernard Avenue closure; putting a fleet cap on companies and allowing no more than 700 in the city as a whole; and limiting the number of scooters that can be deployed downtown to 45 per provider.
Lime is the only company that indicated it would be able to meet the deadline and one other company, unnamed by city staff, told council it might be able to make the changes in time. Companies that can’t make the changes will have their permits cancelled, with an option to reapply if they can demonstrate compliance later in the summer.
Assuming that Lime will end up the only operator left in the city, staff said the changes will see only 150 scooters left by July 1, 45 of them downtown. That’s down substantially from the nearly 1,000 that were being deployed daily in early June.
Council supported the new restrictions with a 6-3 vote, councillors Maxine DeHart, Brad Sieben and Charlie Hodge being opposed.
Mayor Colin Basran said limiting the number of scooters downtown and the areas they can go will have a significant positive impact but the possibility of only having a single company may have “swung too far the other way.”
“One operator with only 45 units downtown is not a lot,” said Basran. “I think that’s too few.”
In her opposition, DeHart said she doesn’t have faith the operators will comply with the new rules as they’re already not following the old ones.
“How can we trust them?” she said. “They’ve come into our city and they’ve done what they wanted. You guys (city staff) have had nothing but work over them.”
A full evaluation of the program will come to council in the fall.
Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org