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This Millionaire Will Donate $100K To Calgary Libraries, But Only If The City Approves Uber

W. Brett Wilson says it's his money, so he can attach any strings he wants.

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W. Brett Wilson, the entrepreneur and former Dragons' Den judge, says he will donate $100,000 to the Calgary Public Library — but only if the city approves Uber.

Uber Canada / Via

Uber launched in Calgary in October despite not having regulatory approval to operate in the city. Multiple drivers have already been ticketed and could face thousands in fines.

Wilson announced his potential donation at a gala event in Calgary this week, where he was given the Bob Edwards Award recognizing "ultrapreneurs" who have a big impact on public life.

.@WBrettWilson announces gift to the @Calgarylibrary of $100,000 IF #yyccc approves Uber. #2015BEAG

Wilson told BuzzFeed Canada he has no financial stake in Uber, but thinks Calgarians deserve access to the service.

The reaction has been mixed, with some suggesting it was unfair for Wilson to tie his donation to a city council decision he wants to influence.

@ktbaker_horn why? It's my money. I can use it to raise the bar. It's not a secret bribe. It's not hidden. Uber is everywhere. Why not YYC?

Reading the news back home. Wondering why we have elections if wealthy citizens like @WBrettWilson can openly offer a bribe to #yyccc.


I was fine with Uber right up until @WBrettWilson decided he should hold a library hostage and bribe the government to get his way.

Others are cheering Wilson's advocacy.

@calgarylibrary Good on @WBrettWilson. Calgary needs @Uber_Calgary @DruhFarrell and @Nenhsi do not get it.

To quote #PM23: It's 2015! Why are we still using a taxi system designed in the 1800's? Thx @WBrettWilson @Uber

For what it's worth, Wilson says he's not holding the library hostage.

Dragons' Den / Facebook

Wilson said he was "clearly having some fun with it" and wanted to create discussion around Uber. He also expects Calgary to eventually approve the service.

"They're going to find a compromise," he said.

Wilson said he uses Uber around the world and for Calgary to “push back and find ways to not approve it reeks of influence peddling on the part of the anachronistic, bombastic, monopolistic taxi industry.”

Ishmael Daro is a social news editor for BuzzFeed and is based in Toronto.

Contact Ishmael N. Daro at

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