Bylaw to limit towers’ access to accident scenes

Richmond Hill, Ontario — Sept. 26, 2013 — A tow truck bylaw aimed to limit the access tow truck drivers have to accident scenes will be voted on at City Council in October.

A draft of the bylaw, which would keep towers 200 metres away from accident scenes,  was tabled in February 2013 which led to a series of public consultations that further amended the proposal.

At a public education and training session on Sept. 24, the details of the bylaw were further explained to the public, who also had the opportunity to offer input and further discuss the proposed bylaw.

Richmond Hill is one of the few GTA municipalities that does not have a regulated towing industry.

Among those in the audience were tow truck operators who feel the proposal would hurt their businesses, noting how being forced to stay outside the defined 200 metre distance could make the accident difficult to see in an urban setting. Towers have also argued competitors could sneak in front of them and move in on their business, while others have expressed concern that being so far away from the scene could limit their ability to administer first aid assistance to accident victims if needed.

City officials have argued, however, that the 200 metre buffer allows for emergency personnel such as police officers, firefighters and paramedics to perform their duties. In response to the potential loss of business, towers had requested the ability to charge for extra services, a request which was denied by City staff.

Representatives from the towing industry have also lobbied for provincial licensing to allow consumers to use towing services from other jurisdictions, adding that municipal licensing is very costly for towers.

City staff responded, stating any provincial framework would be costly and would take time to establish and Richmond Hill drivers should be protected sooner rather than later. It was also suggested by two members of City Council that towers should be allowed to set their own prices and that the new municipal bylaw should include training courses for drivers.

Driver training was not included in the drafted bylaw as no other municipality includes training within their bylaws, however it was noted that the City will work with the industry to encourage voluntary training programs for drivers.

The bylaw is set to be voted upon by Richmond Hill City Council on Oct. 21.

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