Ron Watson Smith says he wants a Victoria-based towing company to follow Saanich’s policies and he is prepared for a long fight. Wolfgang Depner/News Staff

Saanich man on the hook for higher towing charges

Towing company accused of not following district policy

A Saanich man claims a Victoria-based towing company isn’t following Saanich’s policies.

Ron Watson Smith says I-Tow violated Saanich’s tow-away bylaw by overcharging him some $60, adding that he is prepared to fight to get his money, because of the principle that is at stake. “Unless he [I-Tow’s owner] gets stopped, he is going to keep doing it,” he said.

The company towed Smith’s 2006 G6 Pontiac in the evening hours of April 29 from Smith’s residence in the 3000 block of Lovat Avenue where he owns a parking spot.

As Smith readily acknowledges, he can only blame himself for getting towed, because he ended up parking in a spot that was also his, but not assigned to the vehicle that ended up being towed. Another vehicle, a truck with Alberta licence plates, had taken that spot illegally.

Smith did not think much of it, because he had after all parked in another spot that belonged to him. But failure to ensure that his vehicle was in the right spot cost him.

Smith then contacted I-Tow to explain his situation. The company, however, did not budge and presented him with a total bill of $182, some $60 more than what the company would be allowed to charge under the existing Saanich bylaw, Smith said.

“If they do it right, they should be able to charge $120,” said Smith. “But they are charging $180.”

Smith wrote a letter to the company demanding the difference of $60 back. Smith said he has not yet received a response. He also contacted the District of Saanich.

Doug Roberts, Saanich’s senior bylaw enforcement officer, confirmed that the district is investigating the issue, but refused to give specific details about the nature of the investigation.

“We are still working on it,” he said.

For Smith, a retiree with a “lot of time,” this issue has become a matter of principle and he plans to raise the issue with Saanich council, having heard similar tales as his from others living in the area.

John Mueller, owner of I-Tow, said in an interview that he did not break any bylaws, citing various legislative “grey areas” and noting that his business licence is for the City of Victoria, not the District of Saanich. When he tows vehicles from Saanich to his lot on Wilson Street in West Victoria, he operates according to Victoria bylaws.

“His opinion is not correct, that is basically all I can say,” said Roberts.