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Archived - Why should you care about tow trucks?

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May 20, 2020
Feature Stories

The City is taking a close look at how tow trucks are regulated in Ottawa to determine if we need to do more or just something different. We have received complaints and concerns from the public about towing services on issues such as:

  • The fees charged for towing and storage of vehicles
  • How fees are communicated to consumers
  • How transactions and agreements for towing services occur
  • Concerns about safety, such as aggressive sales tactics and accident chasing.

A car being towed.

There are a lot of questions to ask during this review:

  • How do other municipalities and the Province of Ontario regulate the industry?
  • What can be done to improve health and safety on the road and at accident scenes?
  • Should we have licensing for tow truck operators and drivers?
  • Should towing fees be made consistent through prescribed rates?
  • What would be the licensing fees to administer this program?

Ottawa residents are invited to join Engage Ottawa for this discussion about tow trucks. This site will provide you with information about the Provincial rules in place to protect consumers. You’ll also be able to share your experiences, take our survey, and stay informed about the progress of this review.

The survey will be open until Saturday, June 20.

Did you know…

  • The Consumer Protection Act, 2004 requires a tow operator/driver to disclose key information to a client, including:
    • Contact information of the tow provider
    • Location of the storage facility
    • Applicable rates of service before tow
    • The towing operator’s interests with a storage/repair facility
    • In addition, authorization is required by the client before towing, with a detailed invoice to be supplied by the operator/driver
      Access more information from the Province of Ontario about your rights as a consumer: such as Getting towed to a storage lot and Tips for Avoiding Tow Truck and Storage Scams.
  • The Ontario Highway Traffic Act regulates tow trucks as commercial vehicles requiring:
    • Record logs
    • Compliance with the rules of the road
    • Separation from accident scenes on a King’s Highway
    • Safety inspections
    • Prohibition of acts “of significant risk to road safety and public interest”.
  • Of the 444 Ontario municipalities, approximately 25 regulate the tow industry, with varying approaches. This includes 19 municipalities that have implemented business licensing regimes for this industry. Others, like the City of Ottawa, have parking and traffic or towing related regulations, but do not regulate through municipal licensing.

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