New rules cut Kelowna e-scooter program by more than half | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Kelowna News

New rules cut Kelowna e-scooter program by more than half

FILE PHOTO - Ogo Scooter co-owner Chris Szydloski demonstrates the new e-scooters for rent in Kelowna.

Two of the four e-scooter operators operating in Kelowna now say they can abide by new rules by June 30 so they can keep operating in July, but at a reduced rate.

City council was given the option today, June 28, to cancel the program entirely or let those who could comply by Wednesday to keep running. Councillors voted 6-3 to keep the program running but with many restrictions.

The key issue is whether the companies could put the technology in place by June 30 to identify when users were riding on sidewalks and follow up by warning or fining those riders.

City staff said Lime was able to do that but, going into the meeting, it was thought they were the only ones. Staff said they’ve now heard from a second company that says it can comply, although it said last week would would not be able to do so before July 31.

Staff did not name that company and said they need to check on what changed over the weekend.

Each company can rent out no more than 150 scooters throughout the city. If two companies are still running as of July 1, that means there will be a maximum of 300 rental e-scooters in the city compared to the more than 1,000 that were running in early June.

They can each rent only 30 per cent (45) of their scooters in the downtown area between Recreation and Sutherland Avenues, from Richter Street to Okanagan Lake.

The scooters cannot run on the waterfront pathway from the Highway 97 underpass to Rotary Marsh or the four blocks of Bernard Avenue that are now closed to motorized traffic for the summer.

Three councillors, led by Coun. Maxine DeHart, voted against the continuation, preferring to cancel the program altogether.

“I don’t think I have much faith in the companies,” she said. “Already they’re not complying. That really bothered me. I thought, how can we trust them?”

She and Coun. Luke Stack both noted they saw people operating the scooters after 10:30 p.m. downtown on the weekend. The companies were ordered in late May or early June to prevent that happening so at least one is not following that rule.

Councillors Charlie Hodge and Brad Sieben joined DeHart in voting no.

A third company has told staff it can comply with the new rules by July 31 but there’s no word on when the fourth company may be able to comply.

No new companies can apply for permits to operate in Kelowna this year so, with limits on the fleets, there can only be a maximum of 700 rental e-scooters in the city.

The new rules do not apply to privately owned scooters.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro or call 250-808-0143 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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