The woes of parking in the wrong place at the mall

She had parked in stalls designated by a sign for one business and done her shopping at another.

Imagine leaving your vehicle in the parking lot at the local strip mall, walking over to a business to conduct your shopping and discovering that it is no longer where you had left it when you return about 15 minutes later.

My first thought would be that my vehicle had been stolen.

This was not the case for a lady from Kelowna though.

She had parked in stalls designated by a sign for one business and done her shopping at another.

Her vehicle had been towed and she was now facing a significant towing bill and the inconvenience of recovering her vehicle which was now stored about four kilometres away.

Needless to say, this lady was irate.

The bill was $187 and she was having some difficulty conversing with both the business owner and the towing company involved.

She had two questions for me and they were whether the tow was legal in the first place and if the bill was unreasonable.

Parking lots such as this one are a bit of an oddity.

Firstly, they are private property and within reason and the law, the property owner may use the property as they see fit to do so.

However, because the public has been invited to park there the Motor Vehicle Act sees it as being a highway and normal driving rules apply there as well.

This gives the property owner in a municipality authority to immediately remove any vehicle left parked on their property without consent.

In this case, the business responsible for the parking space that this lady used chose to remove her vehicle because she failed to obtain their consent.

The sign offered the use of the space only if she was a customer of that business.

So, before you park in any municipal parking lot, it is wise to know what you are agreeing to before you lock your vehicle and walk away.

You are there as a guest or have agreed to a contract for service.

Failing to fulfill your end of the bargain may come at a price.

Tim Schewe is a retired constable with many years of traffic law enforcement experience. To comment or learn more, please visit DriveSmart BC.ca