Montreal

Starting July 1, if your car breaks down on a busy Montreal street, you'll have to call police for a tow

The new rules are being put into effect to address a "climate of violence and retaliation" among towing companies in the city, according to a report by the City of Montreal's Inspector General's Office.

New rules are being put into effect to address 'climate of violence and retaliation' among towing companies

The new rules laying out these exclusive towing zones come into effect July 1. (ISTOCK)

Next time you get into an automotive accident or your car stalls and blocks traffic on a major thoroughfare, you will have to call 911 to request a tow truck.

Starting July 1, Montreal police will introduce 10 "exclusive towing areas" on the island of Montreal, and drivers will be forced to use tow services that correspond to those areas at a fixed rate.

According to a news release sent out by the SPVM (Service de Police de la Ville de Montréal), this only applies to vehicles "involved in an accident or that have broken down and block traffic or are dangerous."

If your car breaks down in a parking lot or a quiet side street, then you can call whatever service you want.
Montreal police have defined 10 exclusive zones on the island of Montreal. (SPVM)

The new rules also do not apply to accidents or stalls on the expressways that criss-cross the island of Montreal, since those roads are already covered by the exclusive towing service via *4141.

According to police, if no officers are at the scene of an accident or a breakdown, the driver is responsible for calling 911 and the operator will put them in touch with a towing company.

The by-law also sets out standard rates which all companies must abide by for this mandatory service.

The changes come in response to a report by Montreal's Inspector General's office that found a "a territory-splitting agreement and a climate of violence and retaliation" among towing companies in the city.

The report mentions incidents of vandalism and arson within the industry as well as threats and intimidation.

The 2017 report also noted the presence and influence of organized crime in keeping the system in place.

The tow trucks will be identified by this exclusive orange sticker. (SPVM)

George Iny, executive director of the Automobile Protection Association, a non-profit consumer protection group, says this move will benefit clients.

He told CBC there have been problems within the industry for years and this may help regulate the services.

"Abusive practices have plagued the towing industry in Quebec and Ontario, and likely other provinces as well," said Iny in an email.

Iny said under the current model, tow truck companies monitor police scanners looking for information about accidents and then rush to the site to try to get there first.

He says this can lead to three or four trucks racing to the scene, competing for the same customers.

Iny said that now that rates are set out by the bylaw, the new rules may help better protect drivers who are already having a rough day.

With files from CBC Daybreak

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