by Tristan Turner
Morinville – Town Council held an informal Coffee Night at Higher Grounds Espresso Bar June 25 on the future of photo enforcement in Morinville. Approximately 10 residents came out to join Council, all of whom attended the event.
Mayor Lisa Holmes said the event was organized with the intention of receiving public input that will be considered as the Town works towards the potential use of a new contractor to operate Automated Traffic Enforcement (ATE), following the Request for Proposal (RFP) for ATE contactors that Council unanimously agreed to release at their June 10 meeting. “We’re just hoping to allow the community to have the opportunity to come out and give us their thoughts on how they would like to see photo radar operated in our community,” Mayor Holmes said. “The plebiscite was an opportunity for people to vocalize which way they wanted it [photo radar] to go, but now we need some specifics on exactly how program is going to be operated.”
Throughout the event, councillors took notes in conversations that they had with attendees. The final half hour had everyone assembled to recap what Council heard for everyone who attended the event. Each member of Council reported to the group what they heard during the discussion.
Councilor Nicole Boutestein spent much of her time at the event hearing the concerns of resident – and former Council candidate – Brent Henry, who felt it was important to be there to “have some input on the photo radar policy.” Henry said he supports photo radar and wanted to shape how the program is operated. Henry spoke about desiring the installation of red light cameras at the intersection of 100 Avenue and 100 Street.
Henry was also concerned that the contract has some teeth. “There needs to be some rigor put into how they are developing the contract [with the ATE contractor], so that we end up with a strong contract that’s enforceable,” he said, adding he has concerns that the contracting process used by the Town may have not changed enough since the “screwed up” contract for renovating St. Germain Place, a contract that resulted in overages of nearly $700,000.
Linda Lions and Cliff Haryett spent much of the evening giving their suggestions on how best to operate the ATE program to Mayor Holmes, who shared with the group Lions’ and Haryett’s thoughts later in the evening. Some of those suggestions include looking into implementing ATE in residential zones, and potentially reducing the speed limit from 50 to 30 in some residential areas. Mayor Holmes also shared Lions’ idea that “Council has the discretion to put photo enforcement revenue to wherever we would like to, and I support the suggestion that it should be put towards road improvements, crosswalk painting and installing solar signs,” the mayor said. “In reality it’s up to us to decide what to do with that money, and I think that residents would be very supportive of investing in those things.”
Councilor Ladouceur also shared the suggestion of resident Rick Price, which he explained as wanting to see the date and times where photo radar locations are being monitored. The suggestion to keep school zones in place during the summer was also shared, with the intent of protecting children who may use the playground equipment while school is out.
Deputy Mayor Dafoe asked all participants if they felt their suggestions and concerns were heard by the member of Council they spoke with, and all responded positively. Dafoe said the notes Council compiled during the June 25 coffee chat will be compiled in a document to be shared with the public. Council will continue to engage the public over the summer and early fall on what will be in the policy the ultimate winner of the photo enforcement contract will be required to abide by.