Grande Prairie city councillors have voted to extend the city’s photo radar contract with Global Traffic Group Ltd for a three-year term. However, after listening to public concerns, they also mandated that at least 40 per cent of the total operational hours per year must be done in marked vehicles.
“I think part of the public feedback was that there was a perception that the program was intentionally trying to hide its existence in order to lure people into getting speeding tickets,” says Mayor Bill Given. “I think [members of] council didn’t really buy that line of argument but wanted to ensure the program was conducted as transparently and obviously as possible.”
Given says other jurisdictions, including the City of Edmonton, are using marked vehicles as part of their process without seeing impacts on traffic safety. The new contract will go into effect on June 1st, 2020.
Through the combined forces of between photo radar vehicles and intersection cameras, more than 30,000 photo radar tickets were handed out to drivers in Grande Prairie in 2019. Given adds the idea behind bringing the program to Grande Prairie in the first place was traffic safety, and says council only has so much say it how it operates.
“To be really clear, council’s involvement in the program is not to set the number of hours worked or locations, ” he says. “Those decisions are made at an administrative or law enforcement level.”
Currently, the number of photo radar operators in the city is roughly half of normal service, due to the drop in drivers and active risk areas, like school zones, due to COVID-19. The crew of four remaining photo radar operators currently work 20 hours a week.