A company backed by Toronto Raptors founder John Bitove says it will bring e-scooter rentals to Calgary and Edmonton in early July.

Newly founded Bird Canada says Alberta will be the launching point for its line of dockless electric-powered scooters, but it plans to expand to eventually offer scooter-sharing and other "commuter solutions" across the country. The company says Kelowna, B.C., is likely to be the next city to see its products.

Colin Trotter, general manager of Toys 4 Boys in Calgary’s northeast, believes electric scooters will work in Calgary. "I think it's the way of the future."

Bird Canada CEO Stewart Lyons says it negotiated the exclusive licence to offer device-sharing services in Canada from California-based Bird, which was founded in 2017 and has grown to operate in 120 cities, mainly in North America and Europe.

Lyons says the company decided to come to Alberta first because it anticipates that exceptions to provincial regulations requested by the cities of Calgary and Edmonton will be granted soon, thus allowing the e-scooters to be operated on public roads.

Trotter’s store used to sell similar scooters before running into issues.  “It was a product we gave up because it was a hassle with the city and bylaws and everything else, so if it became available again, I’m sure we would bring them in.”

The City of Calgary declined an interview request. In a statement to CTV News , Nathan Carswell, shared mobility program manager with the City of Calgary said:

“At present, shared electric scooters do not comply with the requirements for motor vehicles under the Alberta Traffic Safety Act. The City of Calgary is working with the Provincial government to look at enabling compliance,’ said

Each scooter will cost $1.15 to start and 35 cents a minute after, a rate which Bird Canada says makes the service competitive with public transit. The company expects to put between 500 and 1,000 e-scooters in each city.

The City of Calgary says multiple companies have asked to operate a similar service. Officials say they are working on a plan to determine where e-scooters can operate. Trotter believes bike lanes would be a suitable option. "I think to pigeonhole it so only bikes can use it, I think is a ridiculous thought process."

The devices have attracted complaints in some cities where abandoned scooters have littered sidewalks and some of have been tossed in streams, but Lyons says his firm is committed to having enough staff to track and return wayward e-scooters.

With files from The Canadian Press