Residents vote to keep photo radar

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by Calli Stromner

Almost 1,200 Morinville voters turned out to cast their ballot in the Apr. 14 plebiscite to determine the fate of photo traffic enforcement, with just over 55 % of electors choosing to keep the controversial traffic enforcement tactic.

The unofficial results posted late Monday night saw 525 in favour of the bylaw to ban photo radar and red light cameras while 654 electors were against it. The bylaw was triggered by a petition submitted by Morinville resident Cliff Haryett on Nov. 15. That petition was deemed valid by Administration and was formally received by Council on Dec. 10. Council chose to put the bylaw out to plebiscite during their Jan. 28 meeting.
Cliff Haryett and Linda Lyons, bylaw petitioners and advocates against Morinville’s current photo enforcement program was grateful to the 900 people who signed the petition last October and to the voters who turned out this week. “The people have voted to retain photo radar – the people have spoken,” they said in a written statement. “The purpose of the petition was to get the people talking about the pros and cons of the program and get the program reviewed or revamped.” They added that it is now up to Council to take the time to review all of the concerns brought up about the program over the course of the last few months.

And a thorough review is precisely what Mayor Lisa Holmes suggests will happen. “The vote creates an opportunity to change the delivery of traffic enforcement or make improvements on the current program,” said Holmes. “Either way the focus is on increasing traffic and pedestrian safety.”

Voter turnout for Bylaw 1/2014 was tallied at 1,179 of an estimated 5,800 eligible voters, or 20.3%. That number is considerably higher than the 2012 by-election, an election that saw a total of 734 votes cast, or 13.68% of the then 5,362 eligible voters in Morinville.
It is anticipated results in Monday’s votes will be made official by the Town on Friday, Apr. 18.

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16 Comments

  1. Very sad the residents of this town chose to vote based on the scare tactics of the city. I was always amazed and disgusted at the amount of camera enforcement in Alberta. Looking over Calgary from the tower it looked like a dance floor with strobes flashing. I was always happy I didn’t have to drive there and have to deal with it a month later. Now that the city has their vote they’ll ratchet up this ticket machine and you’ll regret it.

  2. Scamera- You say “Very sad the residents of this town chose to vote based on the scare tactics of the city” and then you finish your paragraph with “scare tactic” language by saying “Now that the city has their vote they’ll ratchet up the ticket machine and you’ll regret it”.

    Is there something in the water in Morinville as of late? Why is it being suggested that town council and administration are “out to get us”. Council is made up of 7 residents that citizens elected. Council works for little pay put themselves in a position to be criticized by everyone. The idea of a politician is easy to hate. Get to know them, look them in the eye and say this to anyone of their faces. The mean spirited picture you paint of council and administration is one sided and far from the reality I’ve seen. They are people like you and I that care deeply for the town and for the most part take pride in their jobs. Are they perfect? No. Should people like you and I push them to give us their best? Yes!

    I encourage you to expect more from yourself when debating what is good for Morinville just as you expect more from council and administration.

    Kindest Regards
    Paul Smith

    • A good comment (as usual) Paul and what I personally REALLY appreciate is that you are NOT afraid of giving your name – unlike SO many of those who comment on ANY issue…

      Those who prefer anonymity – for whatever reason and on whichever side of a discussion – have not earned my respect and I tend to ignore them – even when I’m itching to really unload (as I am somewhat inclined to do!)

      You have a fine day young fella,

      Jim

      • People don’t put their names for fear of retribution. It is rumored that one fellow had his taxes jacked through the roof because there was some politicians that wanted to shut him up. Not only did they raise his taxes but the whole street. And with assessments going on i don’t blame them. With fear mongering going on with such things as photo radar who knows what our civil servants are willing to do!

        • And I thought I was paranoid!

          I also stopped dealing in rumours about 60 years ago…

          You DO realize that if they REALLY wanted to find out who you are, the legal means exist (if I’m not mistaken) for “THEM” to track you via your IP address.

          As most folks know, I’m probably Morinville’s most vociferous critic of our Town Administration (right, Paul?) but I don’t fear being ‘targeted’ by them.

          Sheeesh!

        • “Fear mongering (or scaremongering or scare tactics) is the use of fear to influence the opinions and actions of others towards some specific end. The feared object or subject is sometimes exaggerated, and the pattern of fear mongering is usually one of repetition, in order to continuously reinforce the intended effects of this tactic, sometimes in the form of a vicious circle.” Politician’s, and their detractors, commonly use this tactic. Good job Mayor.

  3. First of all, we would like to say a huge “Thank You” to all of you who signed and supported our petition.
    We would also like to thank the following:
    • Town Council, for remaining as neutral as possible throughout this public debate;
    • Everyone who took the time to get out and vote;
    • Everyone who participated in the volume of comments, letters, and detailed research which offered VALID points for both the yes and no positions; and
    • The Traffic and Safety Committee for their contribution to the debate via the articles and comments.

    Last, but not least, thank you to all the media for their coverage of both sides of this issue.
    What a learning experience this has been for us.
    Linda and Cliff

  4. What a great form we have here to express thoughts and spur conversation.

    We are as free to spread manure here (re: voter) as the farmers are in their fields.
    If you had any ideal at all of how taxes work, you would know that the rumours are just that! Rumours!!
    Taxes are assessed town wide, not by street or house,

    And, to Dear Scamera. What is so sad about democracy winning the day. The majority of those who voted wished to keep photo radar.
    To those who did not want photo radar, and I know it was about more than just the tickets but implementation, as Bob Layton said, Participation is voluntary! ! !
    Ps. I voted to keep photo radar after informing myself of the issues. No fear involved.

    And, What an even greater place Morinville would be to live in if more people got involved like Cliff and Linda.
    Well done.

  5. Well done you two. This is how politics is supposed to work. Even if the vote didn’t go our way at least you got the people thinking including the town officials!

  6. Joe, I’m sort of confused by your tax statement! Could you expand on that? And I don’t really agree with your statement ” the majority of those who voted wished to keep photo radar”. Those who voted to get rid of photo radar did so for that very reason, to get rid of it. However, from talking with many individuals in Morinville, I can guarantee that many folks voted to keep photo radar because they were fearful of their taxes going up! Many citizens definitley listened to or read what the mayor said in her interviews. She stressed over and over that safety was the issue and yet she always threw in the caveat that photo radar made $ 250 – $ 350 thousand dollars each year which pays for the community center ( 5% going towards safety initiatives ?? and 95% going to pay down the community center) The implication was always there, if photo radar was discontinued, taxes would go up. Not good news for many on fixed incomes or pensions. And definitely a motivator to get out and vote to keep photo radar! Oh well, water under the bridge now. Thank you, Linda and Cliff, I’m now sure that the mayor and council will create a better set of guidelines for the renewed photo radar contract and ensure that SAFETY is the word of the day! I also hope, in the future, that councils of the day rely on committed funding rather than pinning their hopes on something as volitile as anticipated fines collected from bylaws etc!

    • The tax comment was with regards to “voter’s” post and council targeting an individual or street with a tax increase as retribution for a particular action.

      As for town wide tax increases to compensate for lost photo radar revenue, it is clear to me that it would have been nessassary. The mortgage on the CCC would still have to be paid. The money has to come from somewhere.

      Why is it, that a motivation to improve saftey can not be possible, if there is money generated???

      I was on council at the time that photo radar was implemented. Although I think I can speak for all of the council of the day, I can say for myself that safety was my ONLY motivation for voting in favour of photo radar. Speed of traffic was the number one complaint that I heard of.

      Although saftey was the reason for my yes vote, it surely did not bother me at all that it would generate money.

      Councils are always looking at new ways of generating revenue and often ask the province for those new ways, ALL in an attempt to keep taxes low.

  7. I voted No to keep photo radar for one reason only and that is to control speeding in town and to keep our streets safer! There was no fear involved in my vote and in fact I respect that our council chose to let us vote on what we as a community want! I do appreciate that Cliff Haryett and Linda Lyons brought this issue to our attention so hopefully we can improve its use in the future!

    It seems to me after following this debate over the past few months that the real issue is that people want to speed, and photo radar is making that more difficult for them!

    I’ve also heard some people say it is a cash cow for the town. Maybe this is so, but would we rather the money come out of increased tax dollars for more RCMP or Peace officers? At least with photo radar you can choose not to pay by not speeding.

    Regardless of how much money is collected and what the town does with it, if you don’t agree and don’t want to contribute than don’t speed!!

    I’m very happy that our community voted to keep photo radar and keep our streets safer!

    • Cara, I hate to break it to you, but Council had ONLY two choices:

      1. Pass the by-law; or

      2. Let the citizens decide.

      Had they chosen Door #1 – we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

      Your comment about “…improving its use in the future!” is excellent, but you ruin it by trying to show that photo radar is all about safety. Both a past Mayor AND the present one have FINALLY come clean and ADMITTED that it’s all about the money. Safety, if that is a consideration at all, comes in at a very distant second-place. A simple examination of where the revenue goes proves it!

      We appear to be on the verge of committing considerable funding for a new arena, recreational facility or whatever… Where will the money for this venture come from?

      Yes, the people HAVE spoken – all that remains is to see exactly HOW our elected leaders respond.

      Have a nice day…

      PS: thank you VERY much for choosing NOT to be yet another ANONYMOUS voice in the discussion!

  8. I will not scream sour grapes, a vote was held, and a decision made, we all have our reasons for voting the way we did and the rest is history. I jumped out of the woodwork a few short weeks ago because I am passionate about ethical policing. I will not be returning to the woodwork as so many others will now that the vote is over. My concern now, moving forward, is what the outcome of this vote will mean for the future of our community. Photo enforcement can be a useful tool an assisting our community in reaching goals of better safety. I will however compare it to a knife, in the right hands it is can be used for cooking and such, in the wrong hands it can be used for hurting and killing. In our society, if someone uses a knife the wrong way, we simply take it away from them. Much debate has surfaced on the manner by which photo enforcement has been utilized in this community. My hope is that with the threat of loosing this tool, the town council and administration have opened their eyes and realized that there is a right and wrong way to use photo enforcement and that the people do have a say in how it is to be utilized. I am still not convinced that speeders represent 97% of the safety problems in Morinville, and as such should not represent 97% of our traffic enforcement. I am not going to dwell on how I voted or for that matter how anyone else voted, that is now history. What I will dwell on is my principles and values as to what makes for ethical law enforcement. In closing, the profits from Photo enforcement are mainly being used to pat for the MCCC, with at least 4 more years remaining on that debt, what type of revenue generation is the town going to use to pay for the new areana.

  9. Wonky question aside, I voted to keep it, so I’m glad the way the vote turned out. What did disappointed me was how many people were willing to sign the petition (I said no thanks), then didn’t come out to support it. The one thing I do want to commend Cliff and Linda for is causing us all, especially Council, to re-think how our community traffic plan is policed and a long term strategy on how to live without the money that photo radar generates. What happens come the day that people smarten up and revenues drop? This vote got people talking and Council now needs to go back to the drawing board on this issue. I’m sure that myself and many others are waiting their response. They have the public’s attention and interest on this issue and I hope they don’t waste it.

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