Roadside Responders Association of Saskatchewan: Together We Are Better

Cover photo: The Spirit Ride memorial arrives at the Martensville Blue Lights and Burgers thanks to Reliable Towing.

WreckMaster training, Blue Lights and Burgers, and working with the VIP for the benefit of all.

by Brad Stratychuk, president, Roadside Responders Association of Saskatchewan (RRAS) & Jackie Klotz, secretary

The RRAS is proud to announce that we will be holding WreckMaster training classes again this year. You can now book for the Level 2/3 training on September 27–28, 2023. The class will be held in Regina, Saskatchewan, and it will be hosted by the Canadian Automobile Association (CAA), an RRAS member. The Level 6/7 training will be held September 29–October 1 in Saskatoon, and it will be hosted by the RRAS. Find more information on the WreckMaster website: Discounts are available for early registrations, so do not miss out!

A great night was had at the Martensville Blue Lights and Burgers event in early July. Lots of families attended, and the kids got to sit in the fire truck and the tow trucks, which put big smiles on their faces. Thank you to Astro Towing, Brads Towing, Eagle Towing, Harvs Towing, Royal Towing, and the Martensville Fire Department for attending.

We would also like to send a special thanks to Reliable Towing for carrying the Spirit Ride memorial to the event. That evening we had a great supper at A&W including balloons, Timbits, and smiles everywhere. This is always a great time to make the public aware of the importance of Slow to 60 when passing emergency vehicles.

In other news, our previous article in the July–August issue of Tow Canada alluded to the RRAS’ presence in monthly meetings with the Vehicle Impound Program (VIP). I am sure VIP tows are a frustrating task in provinces with provincial insurers, as well as others. Tow Canada’s publisher, Iva Kestrankova, recently asked us for an update on our progress and how we got to the table. The question of how we got to the table is a actually tougher question to answer than how we are dealing with the issues. Some of the answers can be found on page 33 of the last issue of this magazine.

In the article, Is It Time for Manitoba to Have Its Own Towing Association, Nick Roscoe, owner of Dr. Hook Towing in Winnipeg, Manitoba, one of the most experienced and successful privately owned towing companies in Canada, said it all when he spoke about the towing industry being fragmented and extremely competitive. He describes how this becomes problematic when trying to negotiate for fair rates. The government plays us against each other and never seeks industry opinions on procedures or rates. There could not be a truer statement.

Heavy-duty beauties on display at the Blue Lights and Burgers event in Martensville.

Our association has learned that together we are stronger. Once you set aside the competitiveness that can keep us from progressing and realize that we are way more alike than we are different, great things can happen. The government is never going to listen to one towing company, no matter how big it is; but if you show up with a list of like-minded members, it kind of has to. Our Blue Lights and Burger events, while promoting the Slow to 60 message, is as much about that as it is about different coloured trucks, having a meal together, sharing stories about our common days, and staying late to tell more stories long after. You would be surprised at how many different coloured trucks will stop and be a blocker for you on the freeway after an event like that, simply because they have been there.

It is disheartening to read that Nick sent out over 130 letters with minimal response. Others should not be afraid of Nick because he has a big company. Rather, they should think: “Wow, I can probably learn something from him!” We do wish Manitoba good luck with their efforts to build an association. Let us know if we can help.

The RRAS has had quite a bit of success working with our provincial insurer when it comes to rates for accidents, but we have received little communication with respect to the impound program. One rather frustrating incident caused an out-of-character e-mail from me, to which I received the following reply:

“I look forward to getting a meeting set in the next couple of weeks to start the conversations and begin to improve VIP’s relationship with the Association”.

As a result, we had our first meeting on December 15th, 2022, and we have completed five more since then. We also sent out a survey to our members asking them to identify “pain points” within the program, and we presented these to the VIP managers. These managers shared some of their organization’s structures and resources, as well as current processes and legislation. In these same meetings, we provide information on how things work from the industry’s point of view, and areas that we have identified for improvement. We also presented information on our costs when these ridiculously low rates were set, and where they are today—everything from fuel, equipment, rent, taxes, and minimum wages.

As reiterated in Kara Cunningham’s article in the July—August issue of Tow Canada, 25 Years of Industry Coverage, Part II: Survival and Profitability, you can’t know what to charge if you don’t know your costs. With hard data (like what we presented to the VIP managers), it is hard to ignore our industry’s needs. While legislation and processes or rules are not the towers’ problem, we still offer respect, and we listen and learn so we can understand their issues, and we expect that same in return.

Some of the pain points that were identified in our meetings are as follows: 

1)  the sale process

2) the valuation of abandoned vehicles

3) the amount of staff time spent on average per car after it is in our yard

4) drug paraphernalia in vehicles

At the end of each meeting, actions and accountabilities were set and reviewed, and in a few short months, we have effectively suggested and accepted a new fee structure that has been sent to the legislative cue for review. We should have received any questions from the government as of today (July 19th), and the next obstacle is for the new fee structure to go through the legislative change process, which should happen by July 28th. We hope to have good news by next issue.

In the meantime, the RRAS will continue with meetings, and we plan to focus on our members’ concerns from the survey one at a time, with some of the bigger points after rates are dealt with first.

From all of us in Saskatchewan—join an association! Stay safe—stay well. 🍁