Wed. Oct 27th, 2021

The draft municipal licensing system would apply to an estimated 40 tow officers with 200 tow trucks and 225 tow drivers plus operators of 20 vehicle storage facilities.

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Ottawa truck operators will have to buy municipal licenses and charge government-set tariffs if the city council approves a proposed regulatory system this month.

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The city has toyed with the idea of ​​regulating the local hauling industry for several years and eventually took it during this council term, even though the Ontario Progressive Conservative government pursued and passed a law governing the industry.

While awaiting rules for the provincial law, the city has decided that it must act now to regulate the towing industry locally and asks the council to approve a municipal licensing program as a consumer protection measure.

The draft municipal licensing system, which was released ahead of a community and protection committee meeting scheduled for Sept. 16, would apply to an estimated 40 towing operators with 200 towing vehicles and 225 towing drivers plus operators of 20 vehicle storage facilities.

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An operator of a towing service or vehicle storage facility would pay $ 1,300 annually for a municipal license and $ 550 for each towing in a towing fleet. Tow drivers would have to pay $ 450 annually.

In the end, it would cost $ 307,000 to run the licensing system for the first year in 2022, with costs dropping to $ 283,000 in 2023 after initial start-up expenses, such as an inventory of plates and stickers. The money would pay off to add the equivalent of 2.5 full-time positions to the municipal public service for program monitoring. Licensing fees are expected to make it a break-even program for municipal taxpayers.

To get a tow certificate from City Hall, operators had to provide proof of a good driving record, a police background check and proof of insurance. Fee rates for multiple towing services would be set by the city.

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The city’s proposed fixed fees include $ 300 for a standard towing of a vehicle involved in a collision and $ 175 for a vehicle not involved in a collision. There would be an additional distance charge for towing beyond 20 kilometers.

The proposed law provides for exemptions for towing operators who exclusively provide services to charities or non-profit organizations, transport vehicles to scrap yards or provide services to school boards.

Steve Redpath, owner of Redpath Towing, said the draft regulations would cost him money in municipal licensing fees, but he sees a need for City Hall to come up with some rules to squeeze the “bad apples” in the towing industry.

Redpath said a municipal licensing system would not have a serious impact on his business as he does not make much collision, a subset of the industry that he believes is targeted by the new rules.

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“It’s going to cost me a few thousand dollars to keep playing, but it’s not going to affect my daily operations and what I do,” Redpath said. “I think I just need to carry some more paperwork.”

Redpath said the proposed municipal licensing system was a result of weak enforcement of existing rules for the towing industry, on top of the Ottawa Police Service’s creation of collision reporting centers.

The city has a statute prohibiting tow drivers from being within 100 meters of a collision unless they were called to the scene.

For motorists involved in minor fender benders, Ottawa police are asking them to report to the collision reporting centers themselves rather than the police force sending officers to the scene. Redpath says that has meant towing operators have circled around the accident sites for business and charged large fees for towing vehicles.

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The Canadian Automobile Association (CAA) welcomes a local regulatory system for the towing industry. The organization is part of the province’s towing advisory group.

CAA North and East Ontario said it participated in discussions with the city during the development of the draft tow regulations. In a written statement from Communications Director Julie Beun, the local CAA organization said many of the city’s regulatory proposals would also be subject to provincial legislation when the Ontario rules come into force, but the municipal measures will help in the meantime.

“Overall, Ottawa’s efforts are a step in the right direction to protect road users from unscrupulous operators and support legitimate operators with a regulatory framework,” the organization said.

The city wants the municipal licensing system for the towing industry to start on January 1st. The staff would revise the municipal system when the provincial regulations enter into force to see if there should be a need for amendments to the bylaws.

According to the city, 19 municipalities in Ontario have business licensing systems for the towing industry, mainly in the Toronto area.

jwilling@postmedia.com

twitter.com/JonathanWilling

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