Updated Tow Zone Pilot Project, Towing Services on designated Provincial Highways.

Regulation Number(s):
O. Reg. 325/21
Instrument Type:
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 plans to implement an updated Tow Zone Pilot that will allow multiple authorized towing services providers, instead of previous single towing services provider, to provide towing related services in each restricted towing zone.

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

For each restricted towing zone, MTO plans to enter into a contract with one or more authorized towing services providers for the provision of specific roadside and towing services within the zone. The service providers 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 services provider for removal of their vehicles from the highway, subject to some exceptions.

The proposed Regulation amendment would enable the implementation of the updated Tow Zone Pilot, an initiative that is intended to enhance public safety, improve customer protection and reduce clearance times on some of the busiest highways in North America by ensuring that towing and recovery services are provided by qualified towing companies and that services are provided at reasonable costs to the public. The pilot will also better inform processes and technical standards for the future regulatory framework.

The proposed Regulation amendment 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 authorized towing services providers for each restricted towing zone will continue to invoice the vehicle owner/operator, or their insurance company for the cost of towing and recovery services.

In order to ensure safer and faster clearance on some of the busiest highways in North America, vehicles within the restricted towing zones will be towed only by authorized towing services provider, subject to some exceptions. The fee schedule for towing services provided by the authorized towing services providers will be established by MTO. The ministry intends to establish a fee schedule that is fair to the authorized towing services providers as well as their customers. This is expected to improve customer protection and reduce the potential for price gouging within the restricted towing zones.

The Ministry has endeavored to provide more customer choice, subject to public safety considerations, and approved roadside assistance service providers, who provide membership-based services, may be permitted to tow passenger vehicle breakdowns on the highway shoulder, if safety concerns are not identified by the Police or MTO.

Additionally, upon request by the vehicle owner/operator, vehicles can be towed by the authorized towing services provider to a safe drop-off location and thereafter the owner/operator may use their preferred towing company to have their vehicle taken to a location of their choice.

It is anticipated that some towing companies who have been working previously in the sections designated as restricted towing zones will not be able to solicit work in the zones after the start of the pilot. Since an authorized towing services provider may end up taking more calls within their restricted towing zones, other towing companies may have more business opportunities on provincial and municipal roadways that are not part of the restricted towing zones.

Furthermore, the authorized towing services providers will be permitted to sub-contract specified work to other towing companies. This may offer some business opportunities to other towing companies who would be able to operate as sub-contractors, subject to the requirements of the pilot.
Further Information:
Proposal Number:
Posting Date:
September 29, 2021
Comments Due Date:
October 4, 2021
Contact Address:
Garden City Tower, 301 St. Paul Street, St. Catharines, ON L2R 7R4