Town approves tow truck licensing by-law

Thu, 27 Jun 2019

By-law will regulate fees for towing that occurs from private lots without owner’s consent

At a Special Council Meeting on Tuesday, June 25, Oakville Town Council unanimously approved a tow truck licensing by-law to ensure that only licensed tow truck companies and vehicle storage yards operate in town. The by-law will also regulate fees charged when a vehicle is towed from private property without the owner’s consent, and ensure that signage is posted on lots where non-consent towing occurs. The by-law will amend By-law 2015-075 (the Licensing By-law) effective January 1, 2020.

“We want everyone to enjoy their visit to our tourist and shopping districts, so we are putting appropriate and necessary controls in place,” said Mayor Rob Burton. “Council asked staff to prepare options that include clear controls and measures to mitigate the issue of non-consent towing. We’re regulating fees, we’re regulating how far cars may be towed, and we’re regulating clear signage on private lots.”

Towing illegally parked vehicles from a private lot is one way a property owner can enforce parking regulations on those who are not patrons of the businesses on the property, and is a right provided by common law. Following a number of complaints from the public about excessive towing fees charged for being towed from privately owned parking lots, Council directed staff to create a tow truck licensing by-law that would regulate costs.

At the meeting, Council directed staff to reexamine the appropriate fees tow truck operators can charge and the wording required on property owners’ signage before the by-law comes into effect on January 1.

The following stipulations are included in the by-law:

  • Each tow truck owner that becomes licensed will receive a plate issued by the town, which is required to be prominently affixed to the rear section of the truck so that it is clearly visible to the public.
  • Each tow truck will be required to have the company name and phone number attached to or painted on both sides of the truck. This will ensure that all trucks can be easily identified by the public and enforcement officers.
  • Signage on private lots where towing is practiced must include a clearly visible tow-away symbol or graphic and state that space is for customer parking only, and if vehicle operator leaves the property the vehicle may be towed. Signs must also include the name of the property owner authorizing the towing.
  • Vehicles that are towed from private property without the owner/driver’s consent must be towed only to a storage yard within the boundaries of the town.
  • Fees for when a vehicle is towed at the owner’s request are required to be submitted to the town by the tow truck owner as part of the application process, but these fees will not be standardized by regulation.

In Bronte Village, where parking in private lots has become an issue, the town is also implementing a pilot paid-parking program. Providing on-street metered parking spaces encourages turnover so that more spaces become available more often for patrons of the stores, restaurants and businesses in the area. The program will also have all-day (nine-hour) parking spots on Ontario Street for visitors who are not shopping but wish to stay longer and enjoy the waterfront.

For more information on the tow truck by-law, review the staff report, item 1 on the June 25 Council agenda or visit the Tow Truck Licensing page.