Officials with the City of Grande Prairie say they’re happy to re-engage in discussions about the future of photo radar. However, Mayor Bill Given says he is curious as to what the latest developments will bring in the long term.
“Obviously there is a new provincial government and if they choose to change those guidelines and regulations we would comply with those as well. The most recent analysis, which was less than a year ago, demonstrated measurable safety impacts from our implementation of photo radar and we are happy to talk to them about it.”
The UCP government announced Tuesday that a temporary freeze will be placed on the buying of any new photo radar devices in Alberta. It will also look to consult with municipalities and police on the future of the program. In 2018, the then-NDP government published results from an independent review which stated that photo radar makes a small contribution to traffic safety in the province but is not being used in a way to maximize traffic safety.
Given says he understands the privately contracted photo radar service introduced in September 2015 is a hot topic for many, and despite bringing in $2.83 million in revenue in 2018, he believes the local focus isn’t just cashing in on speeding drivers.
“We have undertaken an approach that is three-pronged: education, enforcement and engineering. We use the enforcement option where the other two options fail or are not feasible, and we do need to correct driver behaviour and this is one of those ways we can do that.”
“My greatest concern is really around municipal autonomy. We are fine to work within whatever rules the government sets, but when the government continues to change the rules that’s when it becomes a big challenge,” he adds.
Councillor Dylan Bressey, meanwhile, says he remains adamantly against the process, and would rather see the photo radar program scrapped altogether.
“I want to cancel the contract when it comes up for renewal. I don’t believe a private company should be handing out fines,” he explains. “The province launching a review also makes my position harder to support. Cancelling the contract would involve significant startup costs to buy equipment and train officers. These are hard to justify if the province is uncertain about future rules.”
The current Automated Traffic Enforcement contract in the city is scheduled to end on May 31st, 2020.