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Tow truck drivers raise concerns over city's anti-gridlock plan

Police Chief Bill Blair is getting on board with mayor John Tory’s plan to tackle gridlock but some tow truck drivers are saying it is easier said than done.

On Monday Blair announced that they will be taking an ‘educate and enforce’ approach, including putting focus on making illegal turns at intersections, stopped vehicles blocking lanes in rush-hour and failure to clear roadways after minor collisions.

Although it sounds like a good plan John Paul Cruz, president of JP Towing, says the city first has to work on the way it does business.

Cruz said five years ago the police used a tag and tow method, meaning tow trucks would follow the officers around and then tow again any vehicles being tagged. But that’s simply not the case anymore.

“Today the officers show up, they call for the tow truck, by the time we get there – within five minutes – the officer’s not even there but the car’s there with the tag,” Cruz explained.

“We have to call (the officer) back to the scene. He tags the vehicle and then he fills out a tow card, giving the tow truck driver authorization to pick up the vehicle. We can’t just go there and pick up any vehicle.”

Cruz said the disconnect means the vehicle ends up blocking traffic for a longer period of time.

Adding to that, Cruz said the absence of a downtown car impound lot means tow trucks have to travel to East York, which can sometimes take about an hour, to drop off the truck.

Chief Blair insists that the issue will be corrected with Tory’s anti-gridlock plan.

“There are some structural issues that are going to have to be addressed,” said Blair. “In particular, the long distance and the time it takes for those tow vehicles to get the vehicle up to the pound and the back out onto the street and to the next tow.”

And having a car towed comes at a hefty price tag. Drivers will have to fork over $180 for the initial ticket and then another $160 to get their car out of the pound.