Ottawa publishes draft rules for the towing industry, including fixed fees

The draft municipal licensing system will 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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Ottawa tractor operators will have to purchase 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 towing industry for several years and finally took it on during this council term, even though the Ontario Progressive Conservative government pursued and passed a law governing the industry.

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

The draft municipal licensing system, which was released ahead of a meeting of the Social and Protection Services Committee scheduled for 16 September, will 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 vehicle in a towing operator’s fleet. Towing drivers must pay $ 450 annually.

By the end of the city, it would cost $ 307,000 to run the licensing system the first year of 2022, with costs dropping to $ 283,000 in 2023 after initial start-up costs, 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 oversight. License fees are expected to make it a break-even program for municipal taxpayers.

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To get a tow card from City Hall, operators must 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.

The city’s proposed fixed fees include $ 300 for a standard tow 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 statute provides for exemptions for towing operators who provide services exclusively 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 rules would cost him money in municipal licensing fees, but he sees a need for City Hall to come up with some rules to crack down on the “bad apples” in the towing industry.

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Redpath said a municipal licensing system would not seriously affect his business as he does not perform much collision towing, a subset of the industry that he believes is targeted by the new rules.

“It’s going to cost me a few thousand dollars to keep playing, but it’s not going to affect my day-to-day running and what I do,” Redpath said. “I think I need to have some more paperwork with me.”

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

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

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For motorists involved in minor fender benders, Ottawa police are asking them to report to the collision reporting centers on their own instead of the police force sending officers to the scene. Redpath says this has meant that towing operators have circulated around these business accident scenes and charged large fees for towing vehicles.

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 towing rules. In a written statement from Communications Director Julie Beun, the local CAA organization said many of the city’s regulatory proposals would also be covered by 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 to support legal operators with a legal framework,” the organization said.

The city wants the municipal licensing system for the towing industry to start on January 1st. The staff will review the municipal system when the provincial regulations come into force, to see if it is necessary to change the statutes.

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

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