Towing Services Regulatory Review

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A tow truck removing a car from an accident scene.

This consultation has now closed.

City Council approved new regulations for the towing services industry on September 22, 2021. Thank you to all of the residents and stakeholders who participated in this by-law review.

The new regulations will come into force on January 1, 2022. For more information please see:

New Regulations for Ottawa’s towing industry

and:

Business Licences City of Ottawa

Consumer Awareness City of Ottawa

Licensing By-law No. 2002-189

Public Garages - Schedule No. 3

Private Parking Enforcement Agencies - Schedule No. 30

Tow Service Operators, Tow Truck Drivers and Vehicle Storage Facility Operators - Schedule No. 35 (added by By-law No. 2021-315)

Council Disposition - 22 September 2021



This consultation has now closed.

City Council approved new regulations for the towing services industry on September 22, 2021. Thank you to all of the residents and stakeholders who participated in this by-law review.

The new regulations will come into force on January 1, 2022. For more information please see:

New Regulations for Ottawa’s towing industry

and:

Business Licences City of Ottawa

Consumer Awareness City of Ottawa

Licensing By-law No. 2002-189

Public Garages - Schedule No. 3

Private Parking Enforcement Agencies - Schedule No. 30

Tow Service Operators, Tow Truck Drivers and Vehicle Storage Facility Operators - Schedule No. 35 (added by By-law No. 2021-315)

Council Disposition - 22 September 2021



  • New regulations for Ottawa’s towing industry

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    Beginning on January 1, 2022, there will be new regulations for tow service providers, tow truck drivers, and vehicle storage facility operators in Ottawa.

    View the Council report and supporting documents here

    Tow customers: know your tow!

    • Tow truck drivers will be required to provide you with an authorization to tow form prior to your vehicle being towed. Make sure you sign the form and get a copy from your driver.


    An authorization to tow form must include contact information of the tow operator and vehicle owner, date and time of tow, tow service plate number, itemized bill of the services to be provided, and destination of the tow.




    • An authorization to tow form must include the contact information of both the tow service operator and vehicle owner, date and time of tow, tow service plate number, an itemized bill of the services to be provided, and the destination of the tow.
    • You can only be charged prescribed rates for key services:

    TABLE 1 - Rates

    Tow Service

    Flat rate

    Standard collision tow, up to 3000 kg

    $300

    Medium collision tow, 3001 kg to 4500 kg

    $350

    Flat Bed tow

    $350

    Non-collision tow

    $175

    Mileage after 20km for all towing

    $3.25 per km

    Winching Recovery Service

    $125

    Upright overturned vehicle

    $125

    Second tow truck to assist

    $125

    Re-tow from Collision Reporting Centre

    $150

    Collision Reporting Centre wait time

    $60 per hour

    Vehicle storage (daily)

    $60

    HST

    Added to above flat rates

    • Towing related to auto clubs or pre-arranged contracts as well as tows for vehicles heavier than 4,500 kg are exempted from the prescribed rates noted in Table 1.
    • You have first choice of tow provider. Have the name and contact information of your preferred tow service ready in case of an accident or breakdown.
    • A police contract tow will only be ordered if you are unable to choose a tow provider or if your vehicle is being impounded for investigation.
    • You have the right to obtain access to the vehicle to collect personal possessions.
    • If your vehicle is towed to a vehicle storage facility, the facility must notify you within 72 hours of the location of your vehicle.

    Towing licensing categories:

    Tow service operators (companies), tow truck drivers, and storage facility operators will be required to have a City issued business licence to operate in Ottawa, beginning in January 2022.

    Graphic depicting towing licensing categories of storage facility operators, tow truck operators, and tow truck drivers.


    Tow companies will be required to:

    • Have a Criminal Record and Judicial Matters Check (Level 2), CVOR, and proof of insurance to apply for and renew a business licence
    • Maintain a record of each tow service
    • Display the operator’s name and phone number on all tow trucks
    • Provide a schedule of all rates in each tow truck
    • Refrain from receiving or charging drop fees

    Tow truck drivers will be required to:

    • Have a Criminal Record and Judicial Matters Check (Level 2) to apply for and renew a business licence
    • Provide a written authorization form to tow customers prior to towing, ensure it is signed by both parties and provide a copy to the tow customer
    • Only charge prescribed rates for key services (see Table 1 above)
    • Maintain a record of each tow service that is provided
    • Maintain a good driving record to continue operating
    • Be honest with consumers and never make false representations
    • Allow the tow customer access to their vehicle
    • Refrain from receiving or charging drop fees

    Vehicle storage facility operators will be required to:

    • Provide security fencing and ensure the lot is well-lit
    • Post signage with their business name and contact information
    • Notify vehicle owner within 72 hours of receiving vehicle
    • Maintain minimum business hours between 8:00-18:00 daily, except for statutory holidays, with staff present to greet visitors and transact with customers
    • Maintain a log of all vehicles stored
    • Provide access to vehicles to customers to retrieve personal possessions
    • Charge a flat rate of $60.00 per day for storage

    Parking Enforcement Agencies (PPEAs) will:

    • Be prohibited from being a licensed tow operator or tow truck driver
    • Follow new procedures when facilitating tows from private property

    Public Garages will:

    • Charge a maximum of $60.00 per day for vehicle storage
    • Be prohibited from receiving or charging a drop fee

    If you have any questions, please email towingregulations@ottawa.ca

  • Recommendations for the regulation of towing services in Ottawa

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    Do you operate a towing services business or a storage facility for towed vehicles, or are you a tow truck driver? As part of the Towing Services Regulatory Review, the City of Ottawa wants to hear from you during the final stage of developing recommendations for towing regulations in Ottawa. Please contact TowingRegulations@ottawa.ca (external link) to receive a consultation document and take the opportunity to provide comments. The consultation closes on July 16, 2021.

  • Vehicle Storage Operator Consultation

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    Do you operate a vehicle storage facility as part of your towing services business or as a standalone business? As part of the Towing Services Regulatory Review, the City of Ottawa wants to hear from you. Please contact TowingRegulations@ottawa.ca for an opportunity to provide comments on the potential new requirements and regulations. As a reminder, the consultation closes on June 11, 2021

  • Towing and Storage Safety and Enforcement Act, 2021

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    On April 26, 2021, the Ontario government introduced the Towing and Storage Safety and Enforcement Act, 2021 as part of a broader proposed legislative package entitled Moving Ontarians More Safely Act, 2021 (the “Moms” Act).

    If passed, the proposed Towing and Storage Safety and Enforcement Act, 2021, would improve provincial oversight of the towing industry by requiring tow operators, tow truck drivers, and vehicle storage operators to be certified. The proposal will also outline vehicle and equipment requirements for tow trucks, and set new standards for customer protection and roadside behaviours, among other issues. A towing director would be appointed to oversee these new requirements, and towing inspectors would be added for enforcement and investigations, together with penalties for non-compliance.

    In addition, the broader proposed Moms Act introduces new measures to combat high-risk driving and improve road safety, including longer driver’s license suspensions and longer vehicle impoundment periods for drivers who engage in stunt driving, street racing and aggressive driving.

    City staff will continue to monitor and review legislative proposals from the Province of Ontario in order to inform any recommendations for local regulations.


  • Ontario`s towing task force - consultation and research

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    As the City of Ottawa continues its review of potential towing regulations, City staff have also been working with the Province of Ontario’s Towing Task Force.

    The findings from the Provincial Task Force’s consultations as well as their recommendations for further action have been released.


    In June 2020, Premier Ford announced the creation of the Towing Task Force to help improve provincial oversight of the towing sector. The task force met with more than 70 stakeholders through consultations, interviews and informal conversations, gained public input through a survey, and received many insights and recommendations via emailed responses.


  • What we heard - Summary of Public Consultations

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    In addition to providing a summary of the City’s consultation methods, this What We Heard document will also provide analysis of data collected during the public consultation and engagement phase of the towing regulatory review.

  • CAA sponsored survey indicates strong support for provincial towing regulation

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    According to a survey by the Canadian Automobile Association (CAA), nine in ten Ontario drivers support enhanced provincial regulations.

    “Wait time, costs related to tow, and lack of full disclosure are the major concerns for the residents of Ontario from tow/roadside assistance experience” according to the survey, completed by Campaign Research Inc. between April 21 and April 24, 2020.

    The CAA survey found that among drivers that have used towing services, approximately one in five reported being misled by the tow operator, receiving a bill that exceeded the estimate provided, having a vehicle towed to a different location or being charged for unauthorized work or service fees. Public safety is also a serious concern, with 16% of respondents reporting harassment or assault in their interaction with tow operators following an accident.

    When asked to consider options for regulating the industry, 95% indicated support for a provincial licensing model and 98% support mandatory training and certification for drivers, according to the CAA survey.

    The Province of Ontario is currently considering options to enhance regulation of the towing industry. Premier Doug Ford announced a provincial task force on June 29, 2020, with a mandate “to develop a regulatory model that will increase safety and enforcement, clarify protections for consumers, improve industry standards and consider tougher penalties for violators.” The City of Ottawa is participating in this process and will keep residents informed through the Engage Ottawa webpage, engage.ottawa.ca.

    The full CAA survey is available (in English language only) at: moresafetows

  • Ontario considers new towing rules

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    A provincial task force has been created to improve oversight of the towing industry. The City of Ottawa will support this initiative as we continue to consider what local regulations may be required.

  • Industry Consultation

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    Do you own or work for a towing company? Would you like to share your opinions on issues facing the towing industry? Please email towingregulations@ottawa.ca to participate in industry consultations.

  • Insurance Bureau of Canada calls for stronger provincial regulations

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    According to the Insurance Bureau of Canada, insurance fraud (including inflated towing service fees) added more than $230 to each policy in Ontario.

    Have you experienced towing service fees that you think were unfair? Please share your story.

Page last updated: 30 November 2021, 16:15