Elimination of Courtesy Tows

Thank you media for covering this important issue. 

CJOB: Elimination of Courtesy Tows – Interview

Winnipeg Free Press: Snow-clearing ‘courtesy tows’ not free

CTV: Calls to charge for towing during snow routes


The City of Winnipeg has always offered free courtesy tows to residents who do not to move their vehicles and are in violation of the residential parking ban. This free courtesy tow can cost all taxpayers upwards of one million dollars a year.

  • $89,675 (2018)                    2,246 Courtesy Tows
  • $467,513 (2019)                  12,293 Courtesy Tows
  • $316,655 (2020)                  7,851 Courtesy Tows
  • $930,350 (2021)                  23,343 Courtesy Tows

This cost to the City (taxpayers)  is dependent on how many residential parking bans we issue and how many vehicles don’t move during the residential parking ban.

Over the past 10 years, the City of Winnipeg has developed multiple communication tools to notify residents when they need to move their vehicles to allow quick and timely snow and ice removal.

I receive many calls from residents frustrated that vehicles are not being moved off the street during a residential parking ban. In denser urban environments, this prevents efficient snow removal and can negatively impact transit and emergency vehicles. Quite frankly I feel it’s unfair to many residents who adhere to the residential parking ban, to have to absorb towing costs because some citizens chose not to move their vehicles. A towing fee could be a catalyst to motivate more vehicles to be moved off the street during the ban.

In 2016, I moved a motion to have all City sidewalks and pathways receive snow and ice removal. It took a few years, but a basic level of winter maintenance is now occurring. But, we are a winter city and I know we can do a better job of snow and ice removal on our active transportation network. Council does not put a budget ‘limit’ on the cost of snow and ice removal.  Not that its unlimited, but, there is not exact budget that the public service must adhere to.

So, instead of the City paying for free towing, I’d like to see violators charged, and the public service to track the number of tows, that would have cost the city, and divert that funding it to improving our active transportation network.

I will be bringing the below motion forward to the January 7th Assiniboine Community Committee meeting and am requesting the Public Service prepare a report within 180 day and present to the Assiniboine Community Committee for discussion and review. As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please reach out to me at jlukes@winnipeg.ca

Charging Vehicle Owners the Full Cost of Towing When In Contravention of a Residential Parking Ban

WHEREAS during a residential parking ban for snow plowing operations, the City provides “courtesy towing” for vehicles parked in contravention of the ban which are preventing efficient timely snow and ice removal from residential streets;

AND WHEREAS “courtesy towing” costs taxpayers $89,675 (2018), $467,513 (2019), $316,655 (2020), $930,350 (2021);

AND WHEREAS the Public Service is not limited by budget in providing the snow clearing and ice control service, which courtesy towing is currently a part of;

AND WHEREAS the City provides comprehensive information to residents identifying when vehicles must be removed from residential streets to enable snow clearing operations through the following methods:

  • the Know Your Zone program;
  • the bilingual Know Your Zone app for mobile devices;
  • the Citizens’ Information Service online address look up tool;
  • the online snow-clearing portal on the City’s website;
  • contacting 311 by phone or email; and
  • extensive social media campaigns during a Residential Parking Ban;

AND WHEREAS Winnipeg’s population continues to grow and as the urban environment becomes denser and more compact, there is an increased need for streets to be cleared quickly and efficiently to enable access for transit and emergency services;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Standing Policy Committee on Infrastructure Renewal and Public Works be requested to direct the Winnipeg Public Service report back to the Assiniboia Community Committee in 180 days on the following:

  1. Necessary changes to the Snow Clearing and Ice Control Policy to begin charging all vehicle owners for the full expense incurred by the City to tow vehicles parked in contravention of a residential parking ban in order to facilitate snow and ice clearing operations.
  2. A process for tracking the cost per event of towing all vehicles parked in contravention of a residential parking ban, to be recovered by charging the full expense to vehicle owners, and diverting those funds previously incurred by the City towards improving snow and ice removal on the active transportation network.