Councillor Wants Winnipeg to Charge for ‘Courtesy Tows’ During Residential Snow Clearing

Photo Credit: Kevin King/Winnipeg Sun/QMI Agency

Thank you Winnipeg Sun reporter James Snell for covering this important issue.  Now, with this new residential snow plow being called, the cost to provide free courtesy tows will be over $1 million in 2021. The City of Winnipeg has invested much work and effort into many avenues to inform the public when a residential plow is occurring:

  • 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;

For details on the motion I am bringing forward, see Eliminate Courtesy Tows

Councillor wants Winnipeg to charge for ‘courtesy tows’ during residential snow clearing

By: James Snell     Published: Dec 29, 2021

A Winnipeg city councillor wants the City to start charging residents full towing costs when they’re in contravention of residential parking bans.

Coun. Janice Lukes (Waverley West) is tabling a motion in a City committee on Jan. 7 calling for the elimination of free courtesy towing and to start charging vehicle owners the cost of a tow when they’re in violation of the residential parking ban.

In a statement issued Wednesday, Lukes said she wants to monitor towing costs per weather event and to direct the revenue to enhancing snow and ice removal on active transportation routes. According to her motion, courtesy towing cost residents $89,675 in 2018, $467,513 in 2019, $316,655 in 2020, and $930,350 in 2021.

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

Coun. Kevin Klein (Charleswood-Tuxedo-Westwood) told the  Winnipeg Sun  the City needs to do more to improve signage and notifications related to residential parking bans. Also, he said visitors from out of town often aren’t informed about parking bans.

“Maybe stop picking the pockets of residents and start doing our job, which is being more informative,” he said. “Then we can look at penalizing people.”

Lukes is calling on the public service to create a report identifying the requirements needed to eliminate free courtesy towing and to start charging vehicle owners. She’s also asking the public service to develop a process of tracking towing savings.

“I receive many calls from residents frustrated that vehicles are not being moved off the street during a residential parking ban,” she said. “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.”

Residential parking ban in place Dec. 30

The City will begin residential street snow clean up on Thursday and the residential will be in effect at 7 p.m.

If a residential street was not cleared as scheduled, it will be cleared after plowing has been completed city-wide. Residents are advised to contact 311 to report a missed street.

The City urges residents to find an alternate place to park such as an off-street driveway or parking lot, or a nearby street that has already been cleared when their street is scheduled to be plowed. This helps the plowing operation run smoothly and will prevent you from possibly being ticketed and towed.

Vehicles parked in violation of the ban may receive a $200 ticket ($150 if paid early) and may be towed to a nearby street that is not scheduled to be plowed or has already been cleared. If you believe your vehicle may have been towed due to the ban, please contact 311 for assistance in locating it.