The Ontario Provincial Police say it is launching a new program for towing companies in an attempt to combat crime in the industry.
In a press release issued Tuesday, police said the OPP Tow program includes “significant changes” to the way OPP interacts with towing companies and introduces requirements that operators must meet before they can provide services for towing companies. trailers requested by the police.
These include trailers for things like vehicle impoundment or evidence collection, as well as those requested by the OPP on behalf of the public.
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OPP Sgt. Kerry Schmidt said an officer can only use the same approved tow operator once per shift, unless allowed by a supervisor.
Operators must submit an application each year to provide services to the OPP and will need to include a variety of details. A signed release will also be required allowing the OPP to conduct a criminal background check, according to the press release.
Applications expire on November 1 of this year and the OPP said successful applicants will remain on the OPP’s trailer list for one year and are subject to suspension or removal “under certain circumstances.” The program goes into effect in January.
The OPP noted that the new program will be exempt in areas where the Transport Ministry will implement its Tow Zone Pilot.
That consists of defined sections of 400 series highways within the greater Toronto and Hamilton area.
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Meanwhile, the Transport Ministry recently told Global News that the start date of the Tow Zone Pilot program was “updated” and is now expected to start in winter.
Natasha Tremblay, press secretary to Transport Minister Caroline Mulroney, said the focus of the project has also changed.
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Unlike there being one approved crane operator for designated sections of roads, there will now be multiple operators.
The initial program resulted in “a non-award due to technical reasons,” Tremblay said.
“We have carefully reviewed and updated the approach for Tow Zone Pilot to a restricted list, which is a list of authorized towing service providers in each restricted tow zone,” Tremblay said.
“The shortlist will provide greater operational flexibility to the province and the ability to review and make adjustments effectively during the pilot on an ongoing basis. After an initial launch period, the ministry will consider expanding the shortlist list to include more qualified towing companies through an open competitive process. “
Tremblay said there are “significant challenges” in the towing industry, including “dangerous persecution and exploitation of customers for the first time on the scene.”
“Together, Tow Zone Pilot and other towing-related initiatives will improve safety, enhance customer protection, curb unethical practices, eliminate bad actors, and provide more long-term opportunities for legitimate towing companies,” he said. Tremblay.
Officials have previously attributed violence involving the towing industry, including shootings and arson, to “turf wars.”
Earlier this year, several OPP officers were also charged and others were suspended following allegations that the accused officers provided preferential treatment to towing companies within the greater Toronto area.
– With files from The Canadian Press
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