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North Cowichan considers higher fees for towing illegally parked RVs and trailers

Councillor sees need for compassion, points out some of the vehicles are homes
North Cowichan Municipal Hall. VIA GOOGLE STREET VIEW

Owners of recreational vehicles and trailers parked past allowed times on North Cowichan streets could see towing and storage fees jump if council approves a tougher bylaw on Wednesday.

The move is expected to affect people who use their trailers as a home at a time when B.C. is in the midst of a housing shortage.

Coun. Christopher Justice said at an August council meeting that some of the vehicles parked on the street would be home to people who would not otherwise be housed.

He wanted to ensure those people are treated well, given a fair warning, and possibly helped to find another place to move to or move their vehicle to.

“How do we embed that sort of level of compassion into a bylaw which could be applied in a pretty blunt and harsh way?”

Kim Ferris, bylaw manager, responded that when staff deal with any bylaw, the approach starts with a lot of education and a lot of compassion.

They spend a lot of time with the people they are dealing with, he said. “We may start ticketing to get their attention a bit about what we want and if that doesn’t happen then we do have to look at other tools in the toolbox.

“But when it comes to displacing anybody, we certainly make every effort to be compassionate.”

Some vehicle owners just do not want to move from a spot, or they have other options but don’t move until told to by staff.

Exact potential towing penalties are not known yet. Staff have been looking into contracting the service with area providers. The closer a provider is to North Cowichan, the less the towing cost might be.

The towing and impoundment bylaw would allow the municipality to remove trailers and vehicles parked past permitted times. A change to the fees and amendment bylaw would increase towing and impoundment costs for illegally parked vehicles, including trailers and RVs.

The municipality has received complaints from citizens about derelict vehicles parked on streets, council heard.

North Cowichan does not have the resources to carry out towing and take a vehicle to a secure impoundment area, a staff report to council said.

Towing and removal costs would move from $50 to the actual costs. Impoundment would rise from $5 per day to actual costs.

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