In the recent years, the City of Toronto has experienced the brutality of a corrupt tow-truck industry; from insurance fraud to violence that affect not only the industry’s own employees, but also drivers and local communities. My office received multiple reports of tow trucks idling on a local highway ramp in the Armour Heights neighbourhood. These tow trucks are sending a clear message to others: this territory belongs to them.
On March 2nd, the Province of Ontario announced it is preparing a framework to license and standardize the towing industry to make our highways safer. I am pleased to see that the provincial government is addressing the tow-truck wars. As a resident and Councillor of York Centre where a few neighbourhoods are located near highways, I believe action must be taken beyond the legislature’s desk.
To address this, I am working with city staff and our local police liaison to triage a response through policy and enforcement: My motion to install No Stopping signs on Bombay Avenue has recently passed in North York Community Council and will provide the legal framework for the Toronto Police to remove the idling tow trucks from the local highway ramp near the Armour Heights community.
Until the No Stopping sign is installed: if you witness a tow-truck idling on Bombay Avenue’s highway ramp, the best course of action is to call the non-emergency police line at 416-808-2222 and report the vehicle and its licence plate for idling. Once the sign is installed, the Toronto Police will have the ability to ticket the tow-truck drivers even after they flee the area. At the end of the day, drivers caught in collisions should not have to fear being scammed by tow truck drivers; communities should not be caught in a crossfire between companies engaging in turf wars; and employees of the towing industry should not have to face dangerous working conditions due to companies gripping over territories.
Not all tow truck companies practice this behavior, but a system needs to be put in place to remove the bad actors. This is a multi-level government issue and in my last meeting with the Associate Minister of Transportation, the honourable Kinga Surma, I raised the concern around the towing industry. The recent news from the provincial government is reassuring and I look forward to collaborating with our provincial partners to make our roads and neighbourhood safer.