by Calli Stromner
While wannabe politicians were in the middle of the tri-annual popularity contest known as the municipal election last October, a slight, soft-spoken Morinville resident was pounding the pavement for a cause. His cause was not to be elected to public office, but rather to compel the Town to significantly alter the way photo enforcement is conducted.
A total of 948 signatures were collected by Mr. Haryett’s efforts. Of that, 874 were deemed to be valid, according to Town administration. To put that into a comparison that politicians can understand, Mr. Haryett’s efforts outpaced the final vote count for Councillor Rob Ladouceur (689 votes) and Councillor Brennan Fitzgerald (801 votes). He also came within four signatures of achieving more support than Councillor Stephen Dafoe did at 952 votes. That last number draws an interesting parallel, for it was Councillor Dafoe who put forward the motion to hold a referendum “because the petition only speaks to 10% of the population.”
Over the past few weeks, the chatter about photo radar has intensified. One regional news outlet has suggested that the Town doesn’t have to change a single thing about how photo enforcement operates because Mr. Haryett used the wrong wording in his petition (The Free Press, March 18, pg. 1). Mr. Haryett petitioned to ban photo radar and red light cameras. Neither tool are used by the town’s private contractor, according to the Free Press. They use photo laser.
To the average citizen, it doesn’t really matter what type of tool is used to detect speeders. The average citizen just cares that it’s done ethically and for the right reasons – to increase traffic and pedestrian safety. Mr. Haryett is an average citizen. Not one who aspired to the grandiose trappings of public office, but one who selflessly invested hundreds of hours in the belief that his efforts could make a difference to the entire community. And that is the true spirit of democracy, not the semantics that are argued during Council meetings or open houses.
Whether you agree with Mr. Haryett or not, Morinville residents have the moral obligation to see this referendum through. Cast your vote on April 14.