Tow operators feel shortchanged by complying with short-lived bylaw

September 21, 2023   ·   0 Comments


At least one Orangeville towing service operator is upset at the way bylaws are arrived at that govern his industry.

Rob Howes of Orangeville Towing and Recovery Services told the current town council on Sept. 11 that the two previous councils had promised him a seat at the table to offer input when the Towing Services and Vehicle Storage Yard Facility Bylaw was last updated.

“To this day, nobody in my industry in this town was involved in that procedure whatsoever,” he said. “And that’s part of the problem why we’re in this predicament here today that we are.”

The Towing Services and Vehicle Storage Yard Facility Bylaw was adopted by council at its Sept. 12, 2022, meeting and came into effect on Jan. 1.

Before the adoption, the province had introduced the Towing and Storage Safety and Enforcement Act (TSSEA), which would establish provincial oversight for the towing and vehicle storage yard industry. 

On July 18, the Ministry of Transportation announced that effective Jan. 1, 2024, TSSEA’s framework will replace municipal licensing regimes, resulting in municipal oversight shifting to the province.

Initially, local industry participants suggested Orangeville council hold off on addressing its bylaw as the province had been in the process of considering the rules for tow operators.

Since the TSSEA came into effect, tow industry operators have been required to follow the same rules as all commercial vehicles. The second phase was brought on July 1 and required industry participants to have a certificate to operate as a tow provider, storage provider, and tow truck driver.

And on Jan. 1, 2024, new customer protection standards of practice will come into effect.

According to a report to council tabled during the Sept. 11 meeting, until the municipal bylaw is repealed, Orangeville towing and vehicle storage yard operators are to be required to adhere to the regulations set out in the bylaw, including obtaining the required licences.

“Now, we’re catching wind that the town’s going to squash the bylaw on Dec. 31,” Howes said. “Meanwhile, us guys in this industry in this town have gone through hurdles and a lot of expense for nothing.”

He said the local bylaw has Orangeville at a financial disadvantage to other Dufferin County operators. The OPP rotates the tow operators they call in the interest of fairness among operators. But Orangeville operators lose out in complying to a bylaw that doesn’t compel the others.

Local operators have to run their storage yards, pay for signage, and other fees. Howes said he’s as much as $1,000 out of pocket because of the bylaw that’s about to be repealed.

“We have other guys that are getting the same revenue but are charging more because they’re not under this bylaw,” Howes said.

Zack Cameron operates Cameron Services Towing-Recovery-Transport. He said the town should reimburse local operators the fees paid to comply with a municipal bylaw that won’t have been in effect for a year when it’s repealed in December.

“As to what percent of reimbursement, I leave that up to you guys,” Cameron said.

He suggested council repeal the bylaw immediately instead of waiting until the end of the year.

“I would like to at least get half my money back, to be honest with you,” Howes said. “I don’t think that’s outrageous whatsoever.”

Mayor Lisa Post amended the motion to rescind the municipal bylaw on Dec. 31 if the MTO changes its timelines in implementing the next phase of the TSSEA.

Deputy Mayor Todd Taylor said the town had no other recourse other than to have a bylaw because council and staff didn’t know the province’s plans for tow operators and storage yard operators.

The bylaw is slated to end Dec. 31, and the new provincial fee structure doesn’t come into effect until July.

“So there’s a period of time, January to July, where there will be no fees charged to the towing industry,” Taylor said. “And that is essentially the break that they’re going to get here as opposed to some sort of refund.”

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