Council refusing to help woman whose van was crushed by plow

March 4, 2015   ·   0 Comments

An Orangeville resident has found herself without a car, and possibly without the opportunity to get another one, after a  Town-owned snowplow struck her van and destroyed it on February 17.

The Town-employed driver of the plow, which was one of the ones with chompers on the front that allows it to act as a large snow-blower, was said to be clearing snow when he failed to see the parked van and collided with it.

According to the police report, the driver was charged under the Highway Traffic Act  with Failure to Swerve Left to Avoid a Collision, but the Town appears hesitant to accept responsibility or offer any help in the situation.

The van’s owner, Melissa Cauley, had parked on the street near her Lakeview Crt. home at the time due to repairmen using her driveway while they worked on the furnace. She says the car was parked legally, during allowable hours, in broad daylight.

“The chompers completely ate the back of my van,” said Ms. Cauley. “I’m glad no one was hurt, but the vehicle is beyond repair. It chewed up the exterior and all the interior electricals. The insurance company has written it off.”

Due to the fact that she was financing the van from a dealership, she is now required to pay the remainder owing, something the insurer doesn’t take into consideration in calculating the cost of a replacement.

“They will only settle for the value they deem the vehicle worth, which means whatever I get has to go to pay off the rest of the van,” she said. “That leaves me with nothing to put towards a new vehicle, or to pay the difference on the final amount.”

While her insurance company was willing to settle earlier this week, it was put on hold due to the Town not accepting liability – something which the insurance company needed in addition to the police report in order to remove fault from Ms. Cauley.

“A week and a half later, they told me they still hadn’t received confirmation from the town,” said Ms. Cauley. “When they did call, they were given the run-around to four different people. It wasn’t until I contacted Mayor Jeremy Williams that someone got in touch immediately.”

Ms. Cauley had entered into discussions with the Town about whether the Town would help her to recover some of the costs, and was turned down, being told, “that’s what insurance is for.”

However, as Ms. Cauley pointed out, “I wouldn’t be in this position if a town-owned plow had not destroyed my van.”

Ms. Cauley had requested financial assistance to pay out the rest of the amount owing, and help with a down payment on a new vehicle, so that she could resume work for her job and the many community organizations she helps out with.

Although she was initially rejected, she was told Council would take it to a vote at Monday night’s budget meeting. It wasn’t until less than four hours prior to the meeting that Ms. Cauley was informed that the meeting was not only going to be a closed session, but that she wouldn’t be allowed to plead her case as part of it.

“I really don’t understand how that was fair,” she said. “This is my life, my livelihood that is being thrown off because of this, things that I would still be doing otherwise. I don’t understand how they felt it was fair to vote without hearing my side of the story.”

The vote failed, although due to it being a closed meeting, neither the Mayor nor members of Council would comment on it.

“I really would like to be able to know who voted against it, their reasons, and why the public was not allowed to hear the discussion,” said Ms. Cauley, following the decision. “It’s not just me who wants answers – many people in Orangeville have also told me they want to know why this is not being taken care of.”

Members of the community are rallying behind Ms. Cauley, demanding answers and showing their support in any way they can. She is well-known around town for her continual and generous work in support of multiple charities and organizations, such as the SPCA, as well as for spearheading the Prom Dream Team – a non-profit that helps provide students who might not be able to attend prom the opportunity to go.

One community member even decided to create a crowd-funding campaign on Go Fund Me to help raise enough funds to help Ms. Cauley purchase a new vehicle and pay off her loan.

“Melissa Cauley was done an injustice when a Town of Orangeville snow removal vehicle hit and wrote off her car, parked legally on the street,” wrote Jason Miles, who created the campaign, on a post on Facebook. “The Town opted not to help Melissa, and we feel they might not have had a legal obligation, but certainly I question the moral compass.”

He added that he set up the crowd source to put ‘this community contributor’ back behind the wheel of a replacement vehicle.

“Melissa gives tirelessly to the community through the ‘Prom Dream Team’, and also brought back the Zombie Walk to Orangeville, amongst other selfless acts,” he said.

On the campaign’s page, which can be found at, Mr. Miles wrote that he is hoping to raise a total of $8600 – $600 to cover the balance of the remaining cost of the car (after insurance), and $8000 to put toward the purchase of the new vehicle.

“If Melissa choses to pursue legal options, if she has any [money] left over, she can put it towards that,” said Mr. Miles.

A number of residents have already donated, with $380 being raised in under 24 hours of the campaign being live, and many more have been sharing the link on Facebook and Twitter. A relatively common response on Facebook has come from residents questioning why the Town would not do the right thing and help Ms. Cauley.

In response, Ms. Cauley said that she was surprised but overwhelmed by the number of people who wanted to help her out.

“I don’t do what I do for recognition, or even for thanks,” she said. “I do what I do, because it’s right, and because there are people who need help and I’m capable of giving it. I just can’t believe that people want to do this for me; I can’t even describe how it makes me feel.”

Readers Comments (0)

Please note: Comment moderation is enabled and may delay your comment. There is no need to resubmit your comment.