Council passes tow truck bylaw despite objection

An independent tow truck driver from the Fergus area is making the rounds of municipal councils to ask that they delay the passage of a new accident scene solicitation bylaw.

But Mapleton council ignored the plea of Roy Loveless and approved the bylaw at its last meeting in March.

Loveless had argued that OPP Inspector Scott Smith is “pushing this bylaw through relatively quickly.”

Loveless said he is concerned that according to the bylaw, even if he is the first on the scene of an accident, he can not bring his tow truck within 200 metres of the scene.

Calling himself “a first responder,” Loveless argued it is not safe to walk 200m to an accident at night or in a snow storm, and he noted he has a first aid kit and training that could assist those in an accident.

Yet in a letter to Mapleton council, Smith said tow trucks are better off arriving later and staying a considerable distance from the scene.

“I cannot think of any situation in Wellington County where it would have been beneficial to have a tow truck on scene before police, fire and ambulance – they only get in the way,” Smith said.

He explained the intent of the bylaw is to deter the following:

– accident chasing by two operators, which is dangerous and has resulted in physical confrontations;

– “unscrupulous” and “unfair” business practices, including towing vehicles to far away locations or stealing a job from another company already called and en route; and

– congestion and safety issues created by “unwanted” tow trucks arriving at a scene.

Loveless argued the bylaw would essentially enable members of the Wellington County Tow Group (WCTG) “to sit on their couch and watch TV” and wait for a call, while he has to be out on the road at all times.

Councillor Neil Driscoll took exception to that comment, noting some members of the WCTG are local operators. He said they are not sitting around watching TV – most of them also operate a garage and employ local residents – so Loveless should be careful about making such comments about the tow group.

Driscoll also added that staying back 200m from an accident would also let other operators know there is already a tow truck on the scene.

Loveless acknowledged that could happen and he apologized for his remarks about the tow group, telling council he often gets too emotional about the matter.

A representative of at least one local towing company was on hand to offer support for the bylaw, which was unanimously approved by council. Councillor Jim Curry was absent.