Nova Scotia

Halifax drivers with booted tires question lack of regulations

Some people who've had their cars booted in Halifax parking lots are starting to ask questions about how the business works.

Booting companies set their own prices

Leah Johnston's car was booted in October. (Submitted by Leah Johnston)

Some people who've had their cars booted in Halifax parking lots are starting to ask questions about how the business works.

Take, for example, Leah Johnston who parked her car at the Subway parking lot on Quinpool Road on Oct. 26. 

She bought a sub. She also went across the street to do some banking.

When she returned there was a steel boot on the front driver's side wheel.

"Well I guess they had been watching me," she said.

Johnston says she thought a quick chat with the booter would clear up what she believed was a misunderstanding.

"I figured she'd see my receipt and she'd see I was a paying customer and reverse the charge. But she didn't."

It cost $132.25, taxes included, to have the boot removed.

"No one's regulating them," Johnston said. "There's no third party to complain to that can look at your case. It's just — they run the show."

No free pass

Car booting companies are free to set their own prices and as long as they have a sign up indicating what happens to illegally parked cars, they're doing nothing illegal.

Edward Peill of Halifax was booted in the summer of 2014 by a company bearing the logo No Go No Tow parking.

At the time, his car was parked in a lot on Granville Street owned by United Gulf Development. He paid $130 a month to park there but on this particular day, he says, his parking pass fell off his rearview mirror and out of sight.

The boot operator still refused to remove the boot without payment.

"He was clearly in the wrong," Peill argued. "He just wanted his $120 and that's all he seemed to care about."

The owner of the booting company, Derrick Cantwell, says he was simply doing what the property owner hired him to do.

"If the contract tells them that they have to display a pass at all times in order to park on the property, then they must do that."

It's a hard line, and it's a business practice the other booting company in Halifax condemns.

"If that happens and you're able to provide proof that you paid to be there and it was a simple mistake, we simply remove the boot for free," said Dan Watson, owner of One-Shot Parking Solutions.

Who is No Go No Tow?

Booting companies, like the towing business, are unregulated. They set their own prices and their own business practices.

What confuses Leah Johnston is why she had such a hard time tracking down the owner of the company that booted her car last week.

The name No Go No Tow appears on her receipt.

The logo also appears on the sign at the Subway lot on Quinpool Road  — as well as the booting gear.

But in Johnston's email correspondence with Cantwell, he uses the name Parking Systems NS.

It's a detail the Edmonton-based founder of brand No Go No Tow takes issue with.

"Neither Mr. Cantwell nor Parking Systems NS have any authorization to use our trademark or our brand," said Dan Mechalchuk, founder and registered owner of No Go No Tow.

Cantwell denies operating under the name No Go No Tow but would not explain why it appears on receipts, booting gear and signage.


Preston Mulligan has been a reporter in the Maritimes for more than 20 years. Along with his reporting gig, he also hosts CBC Radio's Sunday phone-in show, Maritime Connection.