Morinville to extend photo radar contract

By Stephen Dafoe

Morinville – Town Council voted 6-1 in favour of extending its contract with Independent Traffic Services (ITS) Ltd. Tuesday night, a company that has provided automatic traffic enforcement in Morinville since 2009. The contract with the company was set to expire Dec. 31, but a clause in the contract allowed the town to extend the contract for another two years provided written notice was given to the contractor on or prior to June 30.

Council spent little time discussing the matter, which came towards the end of a heavy agenda. Councillor Lisa Holmes questioned whether extending the contract would prohibit the Town of Morinville negotiating clauses within the contract and was told clauses could be negotiated. Additionally, the councillor questioned when photo radar locations would be reviewed. ITS currently monitors 20 locations in Morinville for speeders and rotates between locations for a period of between 20 and 30 hours per week. A review of those locations would go before Morinville’s Traffic Safety Committee.

Councillors were presented with a report showing the results of having photo radar in town over the past two-and-a-half years. The data shows a decline in local residents receiving tickets. In the first year 44.5 per cent of tickets issued were to Morinville residents. That number has slightly decreased to 36.7 per cent of tickets issued.

In total, ITS has monitored 5,461,317 vehicles between Jan. 1, 2009 and May 30, 2011. Of that number 681,281 – or 12.5 per cent – of vehicles were recorded exceeding the speed limit. The highest speed clocked was 161 kilometres per hour.

Traffic tickets spiked considerably between 2009/2010 and 2010/2011 in some areas monitored by ITS. Tickets issued in school zones increased by 705 tickets from 339 in the first year to 1,044 in the current monitoring year. Cardiff Road saw an increase from 1,736 tickets in the first year to 2,197 tickets in the current year. 100 Avenue, east of 100 Street also saw a spike in tickets from 549 tickets to 771 in the current monitoring year.

While tickets were up in some key areas in town, other areas dropped, particularly 100 Street north of the railroad tracks. 809 tickets were issued in the first monitoring year, compared to only 52 in the current year. Overall tickets have dropped from 8,674 tickets in the first year to 6,353 this monitoring year. Current figures do not include data for the month of June, giving comparisons a 12 month to 11 month comparison.

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14 Comments

  1. From the above article:

    “While tickets were up in some key areas in town, other areas dropped, particularly 100 Street north of the railroad tracks. 809 tickets were issued in the first monitoring year, compared to only 52 in the current year.”

    I don’t think this has anything to do with monitoring by photo radar, but rather the fact the posted limit for that zone was changed from a 30km/hr to 50km/hr. I would bet most of the tickets mailed out in the first year were for infractions that wouldn’t now be issued a fine.

    Some of this data presented to council really isn’t all that relevant. A reduction from 809 to 52 is significant because of other reasons. While mentioning that one vehicle was clocked doing 161km/hr is interesting information, but not really a fact worth basing any decision of photo radar’s benefit in the town. All the owner of that vehicle ended up with was a fine. The road remained just as dangerous since that vehicle was not stopped from traveling.

  2. The area of 100 Street north of the tracks is where I believe most of the 809 tickets were issued would be north of the fire station. Not between 101 Ave and 95 Ave. THAT would be better information to know. There are no significant decreases in speeding noted anywhere else specifically in the article, but rather an increase in fines being sent out in a few areas. It is really making the town a safer place?

    • we argue the most dangerous area of town is 100 Avenue where large numbers of drivers seem incapable or at least unwilling to yield for pedestrians at cross walks.

  3. I cannot for the life of me undersytand why people have a problem following the speed limit no matter where it is, what time of day or whatever. There are those who call photo radar “cash cow” or another form of “tax” well if you do not speed you will not contribute to the “cow” or the “tax”. You are the one who can control your contribution to the above. Also “transition zones” not sure what everyone thinks they are but if the sign ahead says 80 then when you pass the sign you can do 80 not before. If the sign ahead says 50 then you should be doing 50 at the sign not waiting till after. Another fact on crosswalks, a driver should not proceed till the predestrian is completely across the intersection. I’m just saying…

  4. While we’re on the topic of crosswalks… I find it frustrating when I stop at a crosswalk to let a child with a bike cross and they ride it accross! It’s especially infuriating when an adult does the same thing! Do they not teach that when crossing the street, you are to walk your bike? My understanding is that if you are on wheels (exception of rollerblades), you are considered a vehicle. I would not stop for a car or truck to cross traffic, so why would I stop for a bike? I have been lecturing people I come accross on this topic, so maybe by voicing my concern, more will be educated.

    As for photo radar, I’m all for it if the photo radar company is following the rules and not trying to trap people. I haven’t paid a photo radar ticket because I haven’t gotten one. I don’t speed. I stop at red lights. I follow the rules of the road. Everyone is safer to do the same.

  5. Paul, with you having been a Coucillor for so long in Morinville ( I am assuming that sometime during your many years on council that you were a member of the Morinville traffic safety committee), I am surprised that you are not familiar with the Solicitor Generals guidelines for photo radar that the contracted photo radar company says they adhere to in operating in Morinville! The guidelines are crystal clear regarding transition zones. If there are no such thing as transition zones, why are they referenced in the ALBERTA GOVERNMENT guidelines? It is beyond me how local governments can twist these guidelines to suit their own agendas. As for crosswalks, seems like the town only puts them where they aren’t needed and yet ignores dangerous locations to accommodate the photo radar “cash cow”!!! If we are to have photo radar in Morinville, at least have the company adhere to ALL rules and hold them accountable, just like all speeders are held accountable. You speed, you pay, but at least have clear and concise rules. The first line of the Government guidelines states “these guidelines are designed to ensure FAIRNESS and CONSISTENCY”, haven’t seen that so far in Morinville!

  6. Photo radar isn’t a cash cow. The rules are simple. In the ‘transistion zones’ you have to be doing the lesser of the 2 speeds, until out of the lesser zone. At a crosswalk, you have to stop for pedestrians and wait until they are on the sidewalk on the other side. You stop at stop signs. Yeild at yeild signs. Drive on green, slow on yellow, and stop on red. If the town/city/province wants to make a bunch of speed zones, crosswalks, 4 ways stops, etc, and you don’t like it, you can bring up your reasoning after the fact (like the 30kmhr zone north of the fire hall did). In the meantime, the law is the law. Obey it.

  7. Melissa, read the guidelines. the Solicitor General RECOMMENDS that tranition zones be excluded from photo radar unless there is a viable reason to not include them, such as a school zone etc. I do obey the laws, but when the town changes the laws, contrary to the Alberta Provincial guidelines, to suit their own agenda so that they can collect additional revenue, I have a serious problem with that and as such, I will NOT stand for it!

  8. I find it interesting that there is still an argument about any transition zone along 100 Avenue in Town. The ENTIRE length of 100 Avenue is 50 kmh through Town, why wouldn’t we as residents want to catch people who haven’t slowed down to 50 kmh when they are heading into Town and why are we arguing about people who floor it on their way out of Town?

    Speeding is speeding, and to me a “viable reason” for having photo radar at either end of Town is probably the fact that their are crosswalks within 2 blocks of the Town entrances – sounds like a good enough reason to me.

    Well done Town Council, thanks for keeping this program that helps to keep speeds down in Town!

  9. Will: I found with my fight against the MCCC this Town Office likes to bend and twist laws and rulings to suit themselves.

  10. Although I did get tagged twice in the famous 100 St north 30Km failure, I’m in favor of the photo radar, as long as it is in areas that are of serious concern ( school zones,parks, etc) and ITS play fair.
    They have changed their hiding spot on 100 Ave from the fence by the pump house to the Pembina gas line right of way. This allows them to more effectively monitor that so-called crosswalk and bus stop.
    (More likely due to the large number of complaints about tickets in the transition zone)

    I’m sorry but if there are no lines on the road or sign indicating a crosswalk, then it does not exist. Just because 3-4 kids cross at that location to take the school bus in the morning and back in the afternoon this does not make it a crosswalk. If council insist that it is then mark it as such.

    So if the photo radar is not a cash cow and, is strictly a safety concern to reduce speed in town, should they not be monitoring the traffic coming into the town vs that going out?

    I quote” St-Albert Gazette jun 22

    ITS monitors 100 Avenue eastbound as it leaves Morinville, for example, says company director Bruce Kaminski, because it leads towards an unmarked crosswalk and bus stop. There, the speed limit goes to 100 km/h from 50 km/h.

    “We’ve had people travelling in excess of 170 to 180 kilometres an hour coming out of that [zone],” he says. The RCMP has specifically asked them to monitor it.”

    Really? over 170-180kph strange that the highest ticket ever given was 161kph.

    “Morinville News.com Jun 29

    In total, ITS has monitored 5,461,317 vehicles between Jan. 1, 2009 and May 30, 2011. Of that number 681,281 – or 12.5 per cent – of vehicles were recorded exceeding the speed limit. The highest speed clocked was 161 kilometres per hour.

    Now if these speeds are truly being recorded, then the RCMP not photo radar should be monitoring that area. The person getting a ticket in the mail 3-4 weeks after the offense will not have a second thought about it, being pulled over and ticketed at the time of the offense will have far more impact on the driver.
    Just my two cents.

  11. You can control how much photo radar tax you pay by controlling your speed, therefore you should accept it and not complain or try to change policy.

    You can control how much income tax you pay by controlling your income, therefore you should accept it and not complain or try to change policy.

  12. Wil, if you read over the guidelines again I believe you might notice the following:

    The use of automated traffic technology in speed transition zones must be justified and reasonable, based on the site selection criteria. Automated traffic technology should not be used in transition zones, when a driver is approaching a higher/lower speed zone and is within sight of a higher/lower posted speed sign, unless there are exigent and well documented safety concerns that would justify its use.

    Or this:

    Areas or intersections with an identifiable, documented history of speeding problems
    Areas where the public or a community has expressed concerns related to speeding.

    All of the above points to a reasonable excuse to use photo radar where they have it and also fair and consistent use. You can’t ignore part of the guidelines to justify your argument.

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