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City councillor Jim Karygiannis confronts UberX driver with criticism

Last Updated Aug 6, 2015 at 5:36 pm EDT

A Toronto city councillor known for his opposition to the Uber ride-sharing service confronted one of company’s drivers Friday, questioning him about the legality of his job.

Reports differ on the interaction between Jim Karygiannis, councillor for Ward 39 (Scarborough-Agincourt) and the UberX driver.

In a note posed to Twitter, Lauren Reyes-Grange, who had summoned the UberX car to her parents’ house, said she had seen Karygiannis bully, and yell at, the driver.

“Jim Karygiannis… blocked him and his vehicle in our driveway,” Reyes-Grange wrote. “Jim then proceeded to yell at [the driver] for being an Uber driver, take photos of his license plate and lecture me on how dangerous Uber is, all on private property.”

Reyes-Grange told The Toronto Star that Karygiannis’s demeanor had been “very aggressive, very angry,” and that at one point in the conversation, the councillor had leaned half his body through the driver’s window.

Reyes-Grange also said her father, former Toronto Police Services Board member Hamlin Grange, told Karygiannis to leave his property, and that Karygiannis responded by saying Uber’s insurance didn’t passengers and that he was just trying to protect Grange and his family.

Grange told CityNews he may consider filing a complaint against Karygiannis with the city’s integrity commissioner.

The councillor has a different take on what happened.

In a letter to Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders, Karygiannis said he had been out talking to some of his constituents when an unmarked vehicle stopped and its driver asked whether anyone there had ordered a taxi.

According to Karygiannis, when they told driver they had not ordered a cab, the man drove on and stopped down the street. Karygiannis wrote that he followed, took a photo of the vehicle, and spoke with the driver.

“I… asked him why he was driving for UberX and was he not aware that UberX was an unlicensed operation and that he was breaking Ontario laws and municipal rules and regulations,” Karygiannis wrote. “I also advised him that his insurance would not cover his passengers should he be involved in an accident.”

The driver allegedly responded that he was a cab driver and his regular vehicle was in a garage being repaired.

Karygiannis told CityNews that when Grange asked him to leave the property, he left.

The UberX service connects private citizens, using their own vehicles, with prospective passengers looking for a ride. Other Uber services connect passengers with licensed cab drivers.

This was not the first time that Karygiannis spoken out against Uber. The councillor has previously accused Uber of not paying taxes.

In the run-up to the Pan Am Games, he warned the public that passengers could face up to $20,000 in fines for using UberX. Toronto police said, in response, that the matter had to be dealt with by City Hall. And Mayor John Tory said he was not in favour of cracking down on UberX users.

Tory has said, howver, that UberX is currently operating outside the law and that he would like to see a new municipal bylaw that regulates both Uber and traditional, licensed cab companies.

To date, 36 Toronto UberX drivers have been charged with operating unlicensed transportation services.

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