J.T. McVeigh photo
Barrie tow-truck drivers could soon be toeing a much tougher line.
The city's transportation bylaw, which also regulates taxis and limousines, is being reviewed with an eye toward stiffer regulations for tow-truck drivers.
They could include a minimum distance from crash scenes and a cap on towing fees.
"We need to do something with soliciting," said Greg Graves of Graves Towing. "It's out of control. Everybody is smothering the accident scene.
"Everybody is getting too close and not allowing the ambulance people and firefighters to do what they need to do."
Graves said 100 feet is a reasonable minimum distance for tow trucks from accident scenes.
Doug Roberts of Roberts Collision says he has seen towing bills as high as $1,200.
"There are huge prices, soliciting at the scene. We have to make it safer," he said. "A certain number of tow-truck drivers are doing this. They need to conduct their business in a professional manner.
"We need to create a level playing field and change the bylaw."
About three weeks ago, Mayor Dave Aspden's vehicle was hit by another vehicle in the front driveway of his Grove Street home.
There were tow trucks coming from places I didn't even know existed," he said. "When they appeared in my driveway, they didn't know who I was."
Aspden also wondered who had called the tow trucks to his home, and how other Barrie residents in similar circumstances would know which one to pick.
"You want to check out the tow-truck operator you choose to call," he said. "Are they reputable? Have they been around a long time?"
Coun. Mike Ramsay says there needs to be controls on towing fees, too.
"Barrie does not regulate the prices," he said. "There's just a range of fees they can charge."
Graves said the most his company charges for a tow is about $200, with a basic tow
going for $45.
Tammy Banting, Barrie's supervisor of municipal law enforcement, says there are 10 companies and 50 drivers licensed in Barrie.
She says the majority of the companies have been operating in Barrie for many years, but there are a few new ones.
"The city's current bylaw regulates soliciting, by way of yelling, etc., which can be enforced by Barrie police at an accident scene," she said.
Banting said the city does not regulate towing rates, but towing companies are required to give the city a list of their prices.
"Should a complaint be logged, we would investigate accordingly," she said.
"The majority of our complaints, when compared to the list of rates submitted, have been within those rates provided to us at the time of licensing."
Banting said the transportation bylaw review will look at all of its aspects and consult with various stakeholders including city police, firefighters and the industry itself.
She's anticipating a report coming to Barrie councillors in late fall which will outline the results of the consultations and the proposed changes which come out of those meetings.
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Tow truck firms licensed to operate in the city
Good Guys Towing Terry & Marsh's Towing Lewis Motors Sales Utopia Towing
Cormier Towing & Storage Graves Towing B & B Towing
Dice Towing & Auto Sales Steve's Towing
Vic Graves Towing Service
Source: Barrie's municipal law enforcement department