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Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Halifax musician Jenny MacDonald wants her $92 back

With no warning, Harbour View Apartments started "booting" visitors' cars.

Posted By on Tue, Feb 4, 2014 at 5:09 PM

Jenny MacDonald and car (parking notice not included; new permit parking-only signs are non-existent)
  • Jenny MacDonald and car (parking notice not included; new permit parking-only signs are non-existent)

Halifax musician Jenny MacDonald has had to pay $92 to get her car back, and the company she says improperly charged her is ignoring her. And at least another dozen people have had the same experience, she says.

MacDonald’s sister Alicia moved into her north end apartment building when it was called Ocean Towers. Last May, the apartments were bought by a Toronto-based real estate investment trust called CAPREIT. The new company renamed the complex Harbour View Apartments.

For years, Jenny has visited Alicia, parking in one of about a dozen visitor parking spaces, with never a problem. So last Friday neither sister thought twice about it when Alicia borrowed Jenny’s car, and parked it in one of the visitor parking spaces. But January 25, a Saturday morning, Alicia went to drive the car, only to find it “booted.” A boot is a metal sleeve placed around the tire, which immobilizes the car. A “Immobilization Notice” from the booting company, One-Shot Parking Solutions, was placed on the windshield. The reason for the boot, says the notice, is “private property no parking permit.”

Jenny MacDonald called One-Shot, which demanded $92. She went to speak with a man who works at Harbour View. “He said that over 10 people had already complained about being booted,” says MacDonald. “He said, ‘this isn’t my job, you have to talk to the management office.” Problem was, the management office was closed for the weekend. MacDonald says that still more cars were booted the next Sunday and Monday.

MacDonald is a working musician with growing success (see her website), but she still needs to supplement her income with part-time jobs. One job just ended for the season, another has limited hours. Her car, a nine-year-old Saturn Ion, is a musician’s ride, with CDs, set lists and empty coffee cups strewn on the seats and floors. She needs it to get to gigs, and to her jobs.

MacDonald got an advance from one of her part-time jobs and paid the $92. “I was afraid that if I waited until Monday, the car would’ve been towed, and then it’d be even more expensive.”

The following Monday, January 27, Jenny and Alicia went to the management office. It turns out that a notice was supposed to have been sent to all renters detailing the new restrictions on parking—visitors would now have to drop by the management office to get a permit to display on their dashboards. It's not clear how that would work when the management office is closed on weekends, and yet the booting company is immobilizing cars on weekends. In any case, the notice hadn’t yet gone out to renters. Alicia finally got hers, that Monday afternoon. When The Coast met with her at the site last Thursday, there were no signs advertising the new policy in the lot.

After a bit of a run-around—MacDonald says she has spent over 10 hours dealing with the issue—she explained the situation to Ashley Stewart in the Harbour View management office. “She said, ‘great, show me the receipt and I’ll forward it to the people in Toronto.’ They’re always passing the buck.”

That was over a week ago, but MacDonald still has not been reimbursed. “The rent is due,” she says. “No one seems to care about that except me, and my roommate.”

Last week, The Coast called Stewart in the Harbour View management office. She directed us to the Toronto offices of CAPREIT, so we called there and were transferred to the office of CAPREIT president Tom Schwartz. Schwarz wasn’t there, but we explained the situation in detail to his assistant, and asked that Schwartz call us back.

Five days later, Schwartz still hasn’t called us back, and no one from Toronto has ever contacted MacDonald.

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