Want to test your luck parking in a tow-away zone? Head to Toronto’s “District 5.”
Not a single towing company bid for the three-year contract to tow cars in District 5 after the Toronto Police Services Board requested proposals for the second time in April.
The district, one of six in the city, runs roughly from Bathurst St. east to Victoria Park Ave. and from Eglinton Ave. south to the lake (minus the downtown core, the area south of Bloor St. and west of Bayview Ave.).
The lack of interest comes as no surprise to former District 5 contract holder John Long, whose company Downtown Group Towing and Storage went bankrupt three months before his contract ended this year.
“It’s not worth bidding,” he said. “The contracts aren’t worth the paper they’re written on.”
The low volume of tows in the district simply isn’t enough to turn a profit, Long said. He also blames his bankruptcy on “unfair” contract requirements and parking enforcement officers who write tickets to meet a quota but won’t wait for a tow truck to move the car.
In 2009 (the most recent numbers available), there were 4,672 tows in the area, down from 8,000 four years earlier. That’s about 13 cars towed daily.
Yet Long’s contract required a fleet of 21 trucks, meaning a dozen sat idle. Their frustrated drivers, who aim for at eight tows a day, couldn’t make ends meet. He attempted to change the terms of his contract mid-term (he wanted to use some pound land as a storage facility and to reduce the number of trucks), but the police board rejected his request, citing legal reasons.
Long sank about $2 million into his fleet and the pound land’s expensive rent. He lost everything.