Don't like expensive tow fees in St. John's? Don't park illegally, says Sandy Hickman

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Don't like expensive tow fees in St. John's? Don't park illegally, says Sandy Hickman

If your vehicle is towed for being illegally parked in St. John's, you're facing the most expensive tow fees in the country. As frustrating as that is, a city councillor says there's no viable alternative.

Residents are expected to move their vehicles during snowclearing in their neighbourhood. If they don't, they face a minimum charge of $275 to have it towed.

That's $65 more than Calgary. Toronto actually charges more for a tow at $280. But that's only during residential street cleaning, which it does once every six or seven years.

Coun. Sandy Hickman, who is also chair of the St. John's police and traffic committee, said the city had trouble finding a tow company to bid on the contract.

"It's a high fee, higher than we would like, and many cities for sure. But that's what we have to work with," he said. "You'll have to ask tow operators why their costs are so high. I have no idea why a tow operator would be that much more than elsewhere in Canada."

Hickman said there weren't any bidders in 2015 on the contract, so the city had to increase the fees to entice one to bid the next year. The current contract has the city paying the tow company $203 per tow, with the remainder of the money going to cover administrative costs.

Unique city

Hickman said it's not fair to compare St. John's to other places in the country, given the amount of snow the city gets and the space restrictions in the downtown area.

However, he said people can avoid paying the high fees by simply following the rules and being responsible with where they park their vehicles.

He said while the city is sympathetic to those who can't afford to pay the tow fee, it's not fair to expect taxpayers to foot the bill for those who don't obey the law.

"We can't ask the citizens of the city to subsidize an individual who leaves their car in the way of snowclearing and snow removal," he said.

"A person has to take responsibility for his or her actions. If they knowingly leave a vehicle in the way of a snow-removal operation, then they will have to pay the price to have that towed."