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ICYMI: Over 30 years towing: ӣƵlocal’s life on Sea to Sky Corridor roads

Meet Brendan Grieve: The dedicated tow truck operator who’s been clearing vehicles in the Sea to Sky Corridor for more than three decades.

His office is his truck, a 2023 Ford F-550.

Squamish's Brendan Grieve has been a tow truck operator in the Sea to Sky Corridor for more than 30 years.

He has been in town for about the same length of time, having moved up from North Vancouver.

Grieve works for Payless Auto Towing, which was bought by last year, after the founder of Payless Auto, Carmichael passed away.

Payless has operated in the corridor since 1973, and the new ownership has maintained the name out of respect for its history.

The company has four operators and trucks in Squamish, including Grieve, and covers the region from Deep Cove to Lillooet. (There are two more operators and trucks in the Whistler/Pemberton region.)

The ӣƵ sat down with the friendly and straight-talking Grieve at the ӣƵheadquarters on Galbraith Avenue for a chat about his job, what he wishes folks knew and some of the things he sees on the road.

What follows is a version of that conversation edited for length and clarity.

Q: Tell me more about your truck and what it can do.

A: My truck, specifically its extended cab, allows me to take more passengers. I have all the equipment to do slightly bigger truck tows and heavier recoveries. I am set up for motorcycles.

Our trucks usually have about 150 feet of cable, then we have extra rolls here that are anywhere from 50 to 100 feet, plus straps and chains.

I have an onboard air compressor, a floor jack, blocks, and frame forks for vehicles with no suspension left on them.

Q: What are all the services you provide?

A: It could be the RCMP calling us to come get a vehicle. We get called to crashes to remove the vehicles. Or it could be a property owner, for someone parked illegally, and we get a lot of calls for roadside service, so like BCAA.

I do a lot of recoveries up in Ring Creek, up the Mamquam Forest Service Road, and up in the ӣƵValley, off-road. We pull out people who have gone down an embankment. I can pull anything out from 10 feet down to 200 feet down. That takes a lot of extra cable.

Q: Tell me about your average day.

A: I usually start around 8 a.m. and usually finish at 8 p.m. at night.

Every day is different. One day I could be spending my day in the bush doing off-road recoveries. Other days I could be anywhere between North Van and Pemberton doing different jobs.

Q: Is that what you like about it, the variety?

A: Every day is a new day. You learn something new every day. Like, with all these new vehicles that are coming out now, it's a learning process what and how you can tow them. Some vehicles don't come with spare tires anymore, so you have to tow them. When it comes to electric cars, there are a lot of specs to them. They have to be towed a certain way—flat decks only or dollies.

And you get to meet new people daily.

I actually work with the ӣƵFire Department. We take them scrap cars so they can train. They also have us come up once in a while and do like a training day with them. When they have public open houses and stuff like that, that's when they have us come in—so, the community can see what we do. I enjoy doing it. I've made good friends with a lot of people around here.

Q: What is challenging about it?

A: You're out on that truck all by yourself. So, there are days when it's pretty boring; you get lonely.And we deal with a lot of angry, stressed, people.

People lash out at us, not realizing that they're in the wrong because they're not paying attention to the parking signs. At the end of the day, somebody has contracted us to remove that vehicle. They treat us like we're the bad person, that we're in the wrong.

Q: How do you handle that?

A: For many years, I've told many people that if they have a discrepancy, they could call our office and talk to our management or go back to the spot where they were parked—at the building or apartment—and talk to that manager.

Q: What are some of the more interesting things you have towed?

A: A few months back, I got a call for a dump truck on its side in Lions Bay. My truck pulled it over, with no problem. I've had to pull trucks and trailers that have got stuck in a boat launch. A couple of years back, I got called down to Cates Park; by the time we got there, with how much the water had come in, you could only see maybe the front fenders on this guy's truck.

He said he locked the doors of the truck and it was in neutral.

Another time, going south, right by the star, a car carrier full of new cars lost its load around the corner. The cars were destroyed.

Last year, a guy came around the corner from ӣƵValley Road onto the highway, and I guess his boat wasn't properly secured on his trailer. When I got there, I asked where the boat was, and he said in the bush.

Q: What do you wish people knew about what you do?

A: The number one law I wish people would understand and would actually follow is to over when they see us working. We have a busy highway, everybody's always in a rush. For the 12 hours that I'm in that truck, I put my life on the line.

I've put our pylons out on the road, and people have hit them. I've had it to where they're so close to the truck that I can either jump or dive out of the way.

People seem to understand they have to watch out for first responders but we're cleaning up accidents. We have to pull cars out of the ditches for the RCMP or the fire department so they can do their jobs.

Q: You are on the road so much, what else do you see with people driving on the Sea to Sky Highway that you would like drivers to know?

A: Slow down and move over, especially as this is now motorcycle season. People need to be more aware of their surroundings. Last year, in the first week of motorcycle season, we dealt with seven motorcycle accidents between ӣƵand Furry Creek hill.

Q: Anything else you want people to know?

A: At the end of the day, we're there to provide a service. It doesn't matter if people are stressed or in a good mood. We're out there doing our job to make sure that person gets home or gets to their destination safely. We're in our trucks all day, and we're in danger zones. We all have families. So, respect us so we can go home safe, too.

About a local is a semi-regular column that celebrates interesting locals. If you have an idea for someone we should feature (and their permission), let us know at [email protected].


 

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