Im­pound fees adding up for Vic­to­ria res­i­dent

Town to seek le­gal ad­vice to re­move ve­hi­cle from its prop­erty

The Compass - - MUNICIPAL - BYMELISSA JENK­INS Melissa.jenk­

It has been a year since Ed Cole had his pickup truck towed away to the Town of Vic­to­ria work yard, be­hind the mu­nic­i­pal build­ing.

Town of­fi­cials told The Com­pass — ini­tially when the ve­hi­cle was re­moved and again on Jan. 16 of this year — Cole was ad­vised on nu­mer­ous oc­ca­sions that his truck needed to be moved off the side of the res­i­den­tial street due to im­ped­ing traf­fic and snow re­moval op­er­a­tions. Of­fi­cials ex­plained both writ­ten and ver­bal notices were given be­tween Oc­to­ber 2012 and Jan­uary 2013.

The Com­pass viewed a copy of a doc­u­ment Jan. 16 that was sup­posed to have been de­liv­ered to Cole by a town em­ployee in Oc­to­ber 2012.

The doc­u­ment read that Cole’s truck was a hazard for school buses and other ve­hi­cle traf­fic where it was parked. The let­ter stated for him to move his truck for the safety of driv­ers, and to avoid po­ten­tial is­sues with snow clear­ing op­er­a­tions in the win­ter.

Cole did not re­move the ve­hi­cle and it was towed.

He in­sisted in a claim to the pro­vin­cial court of New­found­land and Labrador in Jan­uary 2013 his ve­hi­cle was un­law­fully re­moved from his prop­erty and was “con­cealed” by the town.

His 2006 Ford F-150 has been sit­ting in the pub­lic works yard near the town’s mu­nic­i­pal build­ing since it was towed there on Jan. 23, 2013.

Rack­ing up a bill

The fee to pick up the truck at the time was less than $70, the price of the tow.

For more than nine months the ve­hi­cles at in the work yard, un­touched, with­out be­ing charged any ad­di­tional fees. But that has changed.

Town man­ager Shel­ley Butt con­firmed the town had be­gun charg­ing im­pound­ing fees for the ve­hi­cle at $15 a day af­ter a no­tice was sent to Cole in Oc­to­ber, ad­vis­ing that the fees had to be paid and the ve­hi­cle had to be re­moved within 90 days.

That dead­line passed on Jan. 4, at which point the fees were over $1,400. The ve­hi­cle is still ac­cu­mu­lat­ing im­pound­ing fees.

No charges from court

On June 10, 2013, Cole, his lawyer and a lawyer rep­re­sent­ing the town went to the court­house in Har­bour Grace to face claims that the town had fraud­u­lently con­cealed his ve­hi­cle.

All charges were dis­missed at that time by Judge Jac­que­line Brazil.

But Cole still stands by his claim that his ve­hi­cle was il­le­gally re­moved.

“My ( truck) was un­law­fully re­moved from my prop­erty at 65 Main, Vic­to­ria by the town,” Cole wrote in an email to The Com­pass. “And is still in their un­law­ful pos­ses­sion, as I have re­fused to pay any un­law­ful fee or fine.”

The Com­pass has learned Cole has been in con­tact about the truck with the town reg­u­larly through email.

Cole also says he con­tacted the RCMP, but says the com­plaints were dis­missed be­cause of in­ac­cu­rate and “false” in­for­ma­tion sup­plied by the town.

Butt de­nies that any wrong­do­ing took place on be­half of the town, and the re­moval of the ve­hi­cle was within the town’s rights.

What’s next

Cole be­lieves the next step is “to un­law­fully dis­pose of the ve­hi­cle and un­law­fully con­fis­cate the pro­ceeds.”

Butt de­nies that, say­ing the town has to re­visit the ad­vice of its lawyer to de­ter­mine where to go next, but there is a pos­si­bil­ity of the sale or auc­tion of the ve­hi­cle. If the ve­hi­cle is sold, the fees billed to Cole by the town would be taken from the sale, and Cole would re­ceive the re­main­der.

Butt said the is­sue should have a so­lu­tion in the com­ing weeks, if all runs as sched­uled. The coun­cil will dis­cuss op­tions at the next meet­ing Jan. 27.

Photo by Melissa Jenk­ins/The Com­pass

Ed Cole’s pickup has been parked at the mu­nic­i­pal yard in Vic­to­ria for nearly a year.

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