Town, stakeholders to draft towing bylaw

April 16, 2014   ·   0 Comments

BY James Matthews – Orangeville Council will work with stakeholders to ink an acceptable towing services bylaw.

Council heard on Monday that one aspect of towing regulations to be revisited is how it governs the service’s use by Orangeville Police Services.

People can enlist a towing service of their choice after a motor vehicle mishap. If vehicle owners don’t choose, OPS may employ a towing service based on a rotation system.

But Richard Croft, supervisor at TSN Towing and Storage in Orangeville, said that fair rotation system isn’t adhered to by local police. And that creates problems when the OPS refuse to go through the local towing association to dispatch a truck.

When the OPS worked through the towing association to have a truck respond to an accident scene or impound situation, tow operators had calls pretty regularly. That created a level field for all hands to stay above water.

When police call tow operators themselves – and allegedly seem to favour one or two operators – some operators feel the financial pinch. Some say they have had to charge a little more because of that unfairness.

“Before, every other Saturday I got a tow call (from police),” Mr. Croft said. “Now, it’s six weeks or so.”

And, with vehicles becoming more technologically advanced and loaded with features that would make moving them from accident scenes risky, he wonders how it’s possible calls have dropped off so drastically.

During Monday’s council meeting, Mayor Rob Adams said the OPS recently engaged one of its constables to look into towing practices in Orangeville. No changes have been made and they will continue to operate under the direction of an existing Dufferin County-wide towing bylaw. However, the current rule doesn’t list equipment or any sort of fee structure.

“I don’t think (it’s) beneficial to our rate-payers who may not be in the know,” Mayor Adams said.

Council passed a motion to have municipal staff work with council to draw up an adequate bylaw to address any concerns. Coun. Jeremy Williams urged council to include tow truck operators in any deliberations to set a towing bylaw.

“Their voice should be heard in how we draft this bylaw,” he said.

The mayor assured Coun. Williams and the rest of council that there has indeed been communication with the local towing association.

At the provincial level, Mr. Croft believes new legislation will serve to protect the customer and tow operators. Laws need to be tightened, he said, because of the “one-guy shows” who charge whatever they’d like.

The provincial government has introduced proposed legislation it says will help protect consumers from getting swindled when their vehicle is towed or being held in a storage facility.

Bill 87, introduced this week, would  require tow truck operators and storage providers to have permission from a consumer or someone acting on their behalf before charging for services.

The legislation would also see prices publicly posted with information of the operators name and contact information. Under the new rules, credit card payments will now have to be accepted and consumers will be given an itemized invoice listing of all the services provided and the total cost.

“We are strengthening consumer protection for drivers involved in traffic collisions or in need of roadside assistance,” said Consumer Services Minister Tracy MacCharles in a media release.

“Drivers should have the confidence that the tow truck operator helping them is reputable and will treat them fairly.”

Currently, towing services is governed by the 2008 Towing Services Act which, essentially, regulates the towing industry in Ontario so that the public may have access to towing services of high quality provided in accordance with honesty and integrity and at a reasonable cost.

“What the province is doing is going the right way,” Mr. Croft said. “I think it’s a great idea. There are some people around that do over-charge customers. And the customer feels it, and the insurance company feels it.”

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