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Tow truck operators in Cape Breton protest proposed bylaw outside city hall

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Dozens of tow trucks were parked outside city hall in downtown Sydney, N.S., on Wednesday, blocking one lane of traffic in an effort to also block a proposed bylaw they say would hurt their livelihoods.

"If the bylaw goes through, there's going to be at least 80 direct jobs and families affected,” said Stephen Jamael, one of the towing operators who participated in the protest.

Before heading to city hall, tow truck drivers met face-to-face with Cape Breton Regional Police about their concerns, which the tow truckers said included the bylaw passing first reading before municipal council without their prior knowledge or any consultation.

"They're trying to dictate what we charge, with pricing,” said Frank Campbell, another tow truck operator. “Trying to cut some of our bills in half, and we have no recourse but to stand up to City Hall."

Drivers got out of their trucks and went into city hall to make their voices heard.

A spokesperson for the Cape Breton Regional Municipality (CBRM) says the meeting ended with takeaways for both sides.

"So the tow truck operators did have the opportunity to meet with the mayor, CAO and deputy CAO," said Jenna MacQueen of CBRM communications. "The tow truck operators were able to raise some of their concerns with the first reading of the bylaw. The mayor, CAO and deputy CAO were able to take those concerns back, and they'll be meeting with some representatives from the tow truck operators next week to hopefully find some common ground."

Three years ago, almost to the date, there was a similar parade of protest.

The city said part of the bylaw's purpose is to encourage safe maintenance and operational practices and that drivers are experienced and qualified.

Some tow operators remained skeptical.

"I don't know where they're going to start getting tow truck operators, because no one can afford to run their business,” Jamael said.

The bylaw is set to go before council for second reading on June 25.

For more Nova Scotia news visit our dedicated provincial page.

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