The City’s Community and Protective Services Committee today approved a business licensing regime and regulations governing towing services in Ottawa.
Towing companies, tow truck drivers and vehicle storage facility operators would be required to get a business license to operate in Ottawa. They would also need to follow new regulations intended to protect consumers and enhance public safety. To obtain a license, drivers would have to provide proof of a good driving record and a police record check. Towing companies would have to provide proof of insurance, valid registration and details of all their drivers and vehicles.
The new rules would govern tow truck driver conduct at accident scenes, require they disclose towing rates, provide documentation to facilitate follow-up and investigations, and provide notice of where vehicles are stored. Flat rates for key towing and storage services would ensure consumers are not overbilled. Towing companies would need to ensure their drivers are properly licensed, maintain transaction records and keep vehicles and equipment safe. Vehicle storage facility operators would need to obtain a license, keep records of stored vehicles, limit storage charges to $60 per day and provide timely notice to vehicle owners about where vehicles are stored.
The Committee received an update on By-law and Regulatory Services’ activities in 2019 and 2020. The report measures the service’s performance, outlines efforts to mitigate significant increase in demand in recent years and details the key role staff played in the City’s COVID-19 response. In 2020, the service enforced COVID-19 regulations, conducted proactive patrols and business compliance checks, and responded to more than 13,000 pandemic-related service requests, including more than 2,400 calls about the Temporary Mandatory Mask By-law.
Demand for service from by-law enforcement officers continues to increase. In 2019, service requests rose 14 per cent from 2018. In 2020, the service saw a temporary decrease in parking-related requests due to changes in residential on-street parking rules during the pandemic. The result was an overall four-per-cent decrease in requests from 2019. Excluding parking, however, 2020 saw a further 14-per-cent increase in demand for service from 2019.
Crime Prevention Ottawa provided an update on its work in 2020, including a new strategic plan to respond to emerging community needs, with increased focus on vulnerable adults and seniors, marginalized children and youth, and COVID-19 impacts. The new plan prioritizes inclusion, anti-racism and well-being.
Recommendations from today’s meeting will rise to Council on Wednesday, September 22.