An impounded F-150 pickup truck in Victoria (pictured) will be auctioned off by Fitzpatrick's Auctioneering in St. John's March 22.
In a unanimous ruling by the Town of Victoria council, an impounded vehicle that has been in the town's work yard for over a year has been sent to auction.
Mayor Barry Dooley confirmed for The Compass March 13 a decision was made at the Feb. 24 meeting that Fitzpatrick's Auctioneering in St. John's would take possession of the 2006 Ford F-150 that was towed from the corner of Burnt Wood's Road and Main Road last January. Documents state it was impeding snowclearing operations.
The vehicle, owned by Victoria resident Ed Cole, will be auctioned off on March 22.
Cole has been actively seeking to have the vehicle returned to him since it was impounded, claiming it was removed "unlawfully."
After the truck was towed last year, Cole filed a statement of claim with the provincial court, claiming his vehicle was "concealed" by the town. His claim was dismissed.
For more than nine months, the truck was parked inside the yard, but was visible from the road. Cole was advised he could pick it up at any time if he paid the towing fee - less than $70. He refused.
In October, the town began charging Cole an impounding fee at $15 a day until he picked up his vehicle. He had 90 days to comply, or the town would proceed with sending the vehicle to auction. Again, he refused.
After the 90 days, the town contacted Fitzpatrick's Auctioneering, as well as other municipalities, to ensure they were within their rights to auction the truck, and collect funds from the sale to pay the impounding costs and towing fees.
Dooley confirmed the town was in it's right to do so, and will go ahead with the auction.
In a letter to The Compass, Cole blasted the town for "abusive and criminal conduct."
"On January 23, 2013, the town fraudulently removed from my property and concealed my 2006 Ford F-150 in violation of the Canadian Criminal Code and abuse of the provincial Municipalities Act," it read.
In an email exchange with Steve Kent, the Minister for Municipal and Intergovernmental Affairs, The Compass has learned the Municipalities Act includes a stipulation that gives a town the right to implement certain regulations.
"The Municipalities Act, 1999, Section 414 (2), (nn), provides towns with the authority to make regulations respecting winter maintenance of highways and snowclearing, including regulations which prohibit or control parking during winter months," the email read.
Cole has informed The Compass he has been in email contact with Minister Kent, the RCMP and the Town of Victoria regarding the situation, but feels like his concerns were ignored.
"RCMP and provincial authorities have failed and refused to intervene," Cole wrote.
Kent explained the issue is one "between the Town of Victoria and Mr. Cole," and not a municipal affairs issue.
Other emails were forwarded to The Compass from Cole, including an email from lawyer Ron Cole.
The email states, "At this point there is no guarantee an attempt (to get the vehicle back), at this late stage, would succeed."
Cole still insists his vehicle should not have been towed, and will be illegally sold at auction.
It is not uncommon for Fitzpatrick's Auctioneering services to auction off vehicles that were towed, and St. John's is the most common municipality that does it.
St. John's, however, specifically includes a bylaw about impounding vehicles. A vehicle can be towed if impeding snowclearing operations, although a notice does not have to be given to the owner.
If the city is in possession of the vehicle for longer than 30 days, it has the right to send it to auction. A notice of auction must be published in the newspaper beforehand.
The Town of Victoria, however, informed Cole in October 2012 his vehicle would have to be moved. When he did not comply by January 2013, the vehicle was impounded.
Fitzpatrick's confirmed March 13 the vehicle was set for auction, and would be going ahead March 22.