Tuesday, November 30, 2021
Home > CANADA > Ottawa Committee green light drags industry licensing statutes, set rates – Ottawa

Ottawa Committee green light drags industry licensing statutes, set rates – Ottawa

Ottawa Committee green light drags industry licensing statutes, set rates – Ottawa

An Ottawa committee took a big step toward regulating the city’s towing industry Thursday in hopes that a proposal to set fixed tariffs and licensed operators in the nation’s capital will provide some predictability for those in need of a tow.

The Ottawa Community and Protective Services Committee (CPSC) unanimously adopted a staff proposal at Thursday morning’s meeting to create a new bylaws for towers, drivers and storage facilities in the city.

If approved by the city council, each of the above parties would need to get a driver’s license, which would require operators to have a good driver’s record, pass a police check and show proof of insurance to run a towing business.

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The statute would set fixed rates for towing services starting at $ 300 for, say, a car involved in a collision.

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City staff said the rates set in some other Ontario municipalities include additional fees, which are sometimes charged on top of a customer’s bill after a tow.

These “high and inconsistent rates” have been the source of some exorbitant costs that have run wildly late in Ottawa, CPSC Chairman Matt Luloff said Thursday, adding that “clear accountability” is needed for operators.

Another aspect of the bylaws would set a 72-hour limit on how long storage facilities can keep a car in their lot before notifying the owner, another pain point that both councilors and staff said Thursday had been exploited in recent years of local businesses that kept cars and ran up in the daily cost of keeping a vehicle without ever talking to the owners.

Ali Awada of Express Towing, the only delegate to speak on the proposal on Thursday, hailed the proposed statute as far too late for local industry.

“We’ve been talking about this for years, thank God you’re actually putting something in place,” he said.

“There are good apples in every business, there are also bad apples. This will actually be able to regulate certain things, regulate prices, regulate who is in the industry and who is not in the industry. ”

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Despite the fact that the bylaws provide clarity to the industry, Awada said there are still “gray areas” in the city’s tow plan that make business difficult for small providers.

He cited the use of private parking law enforcement agencies (PPEAs) – companies that are deputies to issue parking tickets and, if necessary, calls for the removal of improperly parked cars from private property – as a concern for his business.

Landlords will often contract with a small tow truck to remove illegally parked cars from their lot, Awada said. But the use of PPEAs, which is standard for the city’s contracted tow truck to remove a car, raises disputes over which company should get the tow.

Roger Chapman, Ottawa’s head of bylaws, said in a media accessibility after the committee meeting that there is nothing in the proposed bylaws that would prevent a landlord from calling their preferred tow company to remove a car from their property.

He also said that Ottawa’s two-year PPEA pilot program, which allowed these agencies to tow vehicles themselves, has not experienced much uptake, with fewer than 50 PPEAs taking on tugs during the pilot.

Nor does the statute address concerns about alleged criminal elements in Ottawa’s towing industry.

A Global News survey in 2020 found that some members of the Ottawa Police Service allegedly secured connections to their preferred tow truck drivers in the collisions in exchange for a towing bill cut or other benefits under the table.

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A whistleblower in Ottawa’s towing industry told Global News about the alleged corruption after the RCMP accused three PPP officers in April 2020.

Drivers have described the current situation where police play judge between numerous truck drivers who drive to the scene of a collision to be the first to get the connection, as widespread for abuse of power.

Still, Ottawa’s new rules would still allow a tow truck to hook a car in a collision if instructed by a PPP officer or other on-site authority, despite claims that the city’s bylaws are intended to give car owners peace of mind. , after being shaken in a crash.

In response to Global News questions about a possible loophole in regulation, Anthony Di Monte, Ottawa’s head of emergency and protection services, said during Thursday’s availability in the media that it is not within municipal jurisdiction to address such concerns.

“It was not part of our process,” he said.

Truck drivers who spoke to Global News in 2020 also called for stricter rules as a measure to eradicate price increases in the industry.

OPS Staff Sgt. Peter Jupp, who attended Thursday’s committee to ask questions to councilors about the role of the police in the bylaws, was enthusiastic about the proposal.

“This is a great initiative that we fully support,” he said.

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City staff in Ottawa said they developed the bylaws to be “harmonious” with forthcoming towing regulations in Ontario, though there is no word yet on when the province might implement such legislation.

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Di Monte said that if the 2.5 full-time equivalent posts created as part of the regulation were to become redundant when Ontario’s pending legislation enters into force, this staff is likely to be folded into other statutory department work.

Kitchissippi Coun. Jeff Leiper also made plans to regulate “staging areas” for truck drivers. He cited concerns from residents in his ward about tow drivers parked in residential neighborhoods near the ramp to Highway 417 in preparation for responding to accidents, causing safety issues and disruption in the area.

Leiper’s proposal, submitted by Somerset Coun. Catherine McKenney on his behalf will be treated by staff with the hope that new rules will be added to the bylaws in the first half of 2023.

If the city council approves the bylaws at its next meeting, the new rules will take effect January 1, 2022.

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