Regulation - LGIC

Tow Zone Pilot Project, Towing Services on designated Provincial Highways

Regulation Number(s):
Instrument Type:
Regulation - LGIC
Bill or Act:
Highway Traffic Act
Summary of Proposal:
The Ontario Ministry of Transportation (MTO) recognizes that major collisions and breakdowns on our highways have significant traffic impacts, including delays to those traveling in Ontario on major provincial highways. The ministry is contemplating a Tow Zone Pilot Project that would designate several sections of provincial highways in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton area as restricted tow zones.

The primary goal of this initiative is to promote safe, efficient and sustainable people and goods transportation on the provincial highway network in order to support a globally competitive economy and a high quality of life.

For each restricted tow zone, the intent is for MTO to select, through a competitive procurement process, and enter into a contract with a single towing service provider for the provision of specific roadside and towing services within the zone. The service provider would invoice the vehicle owner/operator or their insurance company for the towing services. The owner/operator would be required to use the authorized towing service provider for removal of their vehicles from the highway.

The objective of the proposed Regulation would be to enable control and oversight by the Province over specified towing and recovery services on sections of provincial highways that form part of the Tow Zone Pilot Project, ensuring that towing and recovery services are provided by qualified towing companies that possess the required experience, equipment and training to safely and quickly remove disabled and damaged vehicles from the highway and that services are provided at reasonable costs to the public.

The proposed Regulation under the Highway Traffic Act (HTA) would identify and define the limits of the restricted tow zones that form part of the Tow Zone Pilot Project and prohibit the solicitation of towing services and the carrying out of specific towing and recovery services except by the towing service providers that that have entered into contracts with MTO. Unauthorized towing services in restricted tow zones would be subject to fines and penalties.

The proposed Regulation would complement the government's Open for Business initiative and keep people moving by reducing the time required to clear incidents on the provincial highways, reducing queueing, delays and the potential for secondary collisions. It would also help protect consumers against excessive pricing for basic towing services.

We invite comments and feedback on this proposal.
Analysis of Regulatory Impact:
The contracted towing service provider for each tow zone will continue to invoice the vehicle owner/operator, or their insurance company for the cost of tow and recovery services.

If a vehicle is being towed as a result of a collision and the cost of the tow is covered by the insurance company, no direct impact is anticipated on the vehicle owner/operator. If a vehicle is being towed as a result of a breakdown that impacts public traffic movement, the vehicle owner/operator would not be provided the choice of calling their preferred towing service provider that may provide them free towing services. In such cases the vehicle would be removed from the highway to a safe drop location at a cost to them and thereafter they may use their preferred towing service to have their vehicle taken to a location of their choice. This would ensure that the highway is cleared as quickly and safely as possible and returned to normal operations as soon as possible.

It is also anticipated that there may be an impact on some tow and recovery companies who would not be permitted to provide towing services on the designated tow zone sections of highways specified under the proposed Regulation. These companies would have the option to provide their services on other unrestricted sections of highways and on municipal roadways.
Further Information:
Proposal Number:
Posting Date:
December 21, 2020
Comments Due Date:
February 4, 2021
Contact Address:
Garden City Tower, 301 St. Paul Street, St. Catharines L2R 7R4