Council passes new Automated Traffic Enforcement Policy for Morinville

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by Tristan Turner

Nine months after residents voted to keep or remove automated traffic enforcement, and after an hour of debate, Council unanimously approved a new policy on the operation of the technology within town limits. The policy was developed to clarify elements of the automated enforcement program and to place focus on the role the initiative has in public safety rather than revenue generation.

The new policy outlines the process for site selection based on high priority areas, and indicates revenues after costs will go to “a designated reserve to be utilized by Council, for the purpose of meeting the goals established in the Municipal Sustainability Plan for improving the safety and/or quality of life for the residents of Morinville.”

Some members of Council were disappointed with the policy as presented, either because it lacked detail or that they felt more time needed to be taken to implement some revisions.

Deputy Mayor Stephen Dafoe took issue with the lack of detail in the policy. He was looking specifically to have more reference on the program’s guidelines and procedures included in the policy.

Dafoe’s suggestion to delay the policy until the next council meeting to accommodate the additions did not get traction. CAO Debbie Oyarzun encouraged Council to hash out changes that night as the Town’s Director of Corporate Operations would be on holidays, making the process of retooling the policy more difficult.

The sense of urgency did not meet with Councillor Nicole Boutestein’s approval. Boutestein, who sits on the Traffic and Pedestrian Safety Committee, said she was frustrated with the policy being “rammed down her throat.” She also advocated more time to consider and shape the policy. “We have every right to table this if we want… So if we’re not comfortable, let’s do what we think is best,” she said.

Mayor Holmes felt Council already had time to affect the direction of the policy at a Council workshop earlier in the month and chastised Council’s not having brought concerns forward there.

Councillor Barry Turner also had concerns with the policy, specifically that there was no indication how much time would be spent at the various priority locations: high risk locations, high frequency locations, high collision locations and high pedestrian volume locations. “I think that as a council this is our one chance to actually have governance impact on how the program is implemented,” he said. “I don’t see a change from before this policy and after [this policy] in terms of what’s going to happen out in the community.”

Walking a fine line between passing a governance policy and establishing procedures, Council ultimately supported the policy after amending it to include specific elements of operations and procedure for the public to access.
The policy will now include appendices on location selection criteria, how to request the Town’s portable speed signs for neighbourhoods and other educational elements of the program appendices.

Another addition to the policy is the ability for Council to point to high priority areas and request that certain zones receive more or less focus as council sees as appropriate. The amendment by Councillor Gord Putnam passed with a 6-1 vote, Councillor Brennan Fitzgerald the only opposing vote.

The policy, as presented, was set for review in November of 2017. A motion by Councillor Rob Ladouceur to review the policy in early 2018 due to election cycles was defeated unanimously after Deputy Mayor Dafoe argued the new policy should be reviewed sooner to make sure it was working effectively. A subsequent motion by Dafoe to review the policy in March of 2016 passed unanimously.

The policy is located at www.morinville.ca.

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