The Toronto police has given towing contract to the highest bidder

EMILY JACKSON/TORONTO STARCo-Up Towing Services’ Suzy Goncalves, Jerry Siracusa an Joe Siracusa stand outside police headquarters after the board rejected their bid to be the towing operator for district 1.

The fee for Towed cars in Toronto is about to get more expensive.

The Toronto Police Services Board awarded a lucrative three-year towing contract to the highest bidder — $230 for a standard tow instead of the competitor’s bid of $164 — for the area roughly bordered by Spadina and Humber, Lake Shore and Lawrence.

Disobedient drivers will pay nearly $2.5 million in additional towing fees over the contract, losing bidder, Co-Up Towing Services’ manager, Suzy Goncalves said at the police board’s meeting Thursday.

But the cash-strapped police won’t be the ones who pay the extra fee, since illegal parkers foot the bill for their tows, municipal lawyer Karl Druckman told the board.

“It’s not coming out of the taxpayer’s pocket, it’s coming out of the wrongdoer’s pocket,” Druckman said.

Tow prices will rise between $32 and $42 in all six of the city’s towing districts as of June 1, with approval from both the police board and Toronto’s licensing and standards committee.

Co-Up — the only bidder who had not previously held a contract — was disqualified because it didn’t comply with the bidding requirements, Druckman said.

According to the letter of disqualification, Co-Up did not have a motor vehicle dealer licence or a municipal public garage licence for the proposed pound location; it did not provide a line of credit associated with the company’s name; and it did not have sufficient proof that it was allowed to operate at the proposed location or that it had access to enough vehicles.

But Co-Up believes it provided appropriate information and the police were “looking for excuses” to award the contract to longtime operator JP Towing Service, Goncalves told theStar.

“The one thing that keeps being blared out at us is that public interest comes first,” she said. “If public interest is so huge and so important, then why is it that a bid is being accepted that is $66 more than the other bidder?”

Co-Up has valid licences but not for the proposed pound location. The bid request does not specifically request that the licences be for an exact location, but the incumbent bidders had this.

A municipal licence can be obtained in one day, if the property is appropriately zoned, but it takes about six weeks to get a provincial motor vehicle dealer licence. The towing bid request spanned four weeks.

Co-Up provided a line of credit in the name of one of its directors, but Druckman said the company name must be on the line of credit to ensure accountability.

As for proof it could use the proposed pound and lease additional trucks, Co-Up provided sworn affidavits. Co-Up director Joe Siracusa owns both the land and the trucking company, so this should be enough, Goncalves said.

But the lack of detail “doesn’t give us the clarity or the certainty we need,” Druckman said. The other bidders gave comprehensive contracts with specified rents and costs, he said.

The board ultimately agreed Co-Up was rightfully disqualified.

Perhaps adding insult to injury: During the meeting, one of Co-Up’s employees had his car towed from outside police headquarters.