Saanich council Monday signalled its support for new towing and impound rates.

Saanich council Monday signalled its support for new towing and impound rates.

Saanich residents on the hook for higher towing rates

Saanich residents who park illegally on private property face higher fines after council Monday gave all but final approval to higher towing and impound rates.

Councillors also added a new type of fine to the existing catalogue to account for more complex tows. The measures are still subject to final approval following input from the industry.

The basic towing charge rises to $85 from $75 under the proposed measures.

Brent Reems, director of building, bylaw, licensing and legal services, said the proposed change is “consistent” with inflation.

“In addition to adjusting for inflation, the proposed changes would align Saanich’s rates with those charged in the City of Victoria, providing for greater consistency across municipal boundaries.”

Impoundment rates will go to $2.25 per hour from $2, to a daily maximum of $20.50, up from $20. The early release rate for impounded vehicles will rise to $45 from $35.

Finally, Saanich approved a special towing rates for vehicles that require special equipment. The proposed amendment allows towing companies to charge an additional $35 if they have to use a dolly or a sling to tow vehicles because of their drive.

“The increased fee reflects the additional time and cost that arises from the use of specialized equipment on vehicles with new transmission technology that cannot be towed using conventional methods,” said Reems.

Coun. Leif Wergeland said he was pleased Saanich is trying to remove this inconsistency.

The rates do not affect parking violations under the B.C. Motor Vehicle Act.

Last year, a Saanich resident complained to the district that he had to pay significantly higher towing and impound rates than those charged by Saanich after a Victoria-based towing company used special equipment to tow his vehicle to Victoria.

As Ron Watson Smith acknowledged, 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 the company 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.