by Tristan Turner
Morinville News Correspondent

Some members of Council were fuming following revelations in administration’s first quarter report that show a significant increase in photo radar ticketing in 2016. Councillor Stephen Dafoe was so disgruntled about how much time was being spent at town exits he quipped: “I’m wondering why we don’t put advertisements up on photo enforcement cars so that we can pull double-duty?”

The report, which was included in the Town’s First Quarter Report, was presented to Council by David Schaefer, Director of Corporate Operations.

The report shows a near quadrupling of photo enforcement tickets since the previous quarter with 1815 tickets issued in the first quarter of 2016 compared to 583 in the last quarter of 2015. Nearly 50 per cent of the time was spent at three spots.

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CLICK ON ABOVE IMAGE TO DOWNLOAD SITE-BY-SITE COMPARISON

Schaefer highlighted changes in the management of the region by photo radar technology contractor Global Traffic Group Inc.

These changes did not mitigate concerns from Council, however, and the report received universal criticism from the Councillors’ table.

Councillor Stephen Dafoe expressed concern about the amount of time spent on Cardiff Road and at the pumphouse at the east exit to Town. These two locations have been repeatedly referred to by Dafoe as “honey spots” where a lot of revenue is generated from common speeding offenses.

Many comments and questions from Council were related to school zone photo enforcement hours and the amount of time enforcement spends there.

Schaefer commented that officers patrol school zones in Morinville “every single day” in addition to the enforcement done by photo radar.

Echoing much of the rest of Council, Deputy Mayor Rob Ladouceur said the message needs to be clear to the operators that this is not the change that Council wanted.

“This does not say safety to me; this says income to me,” Ladouceur said. “It doesn’t look like a safety program when I see over 1000 tickets in two spots.”

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A photo enforcement vehicle hides behind a fence at the pumphouse May 11 in this submitted photo.

Councillor Gord Putnam was concerned that if the program continues like this, the public may want to scrap photo enforcement entirely.

“If we continue at this rate, it will become that the public will not accept it as being reasonable,” he said. “We put the program at risk by continuing to look like we’re just doing things to generate revenue. The people are going to get to the point where they’ve had enough of it. I think that there is reasonable enforcement, and if we are doing it in a way that seems fair to everyone in the public … then I’m good with it. But when I start seeing the numbers in those areas … I don’t think that speaks well about what we want to happen.”

Putnam went on to suggest that Council should potentially look at directly legislating limits on time spent in certain areas, as previously suggested by Councillor Nicole Boutestein.

“Clearly what we are asking for is just not happening,” Putnam said.

Mayor Lisa Holmes wanted to see more photo enforcement time spent in playground zones in addition to school zones, commenting, “I feel personally that my kids are more at risk in a playground zone than a school zone,” she said. “In a school zone there is lots of adults around, always watching, with a lot of enforcement there, but the playground zones got only three hours in three months.”

Holmes also felt that photo radar vehicles going forward should be clearly marked as such to increase awareness of the program.

Councillor Brennan Fitzgerald felt the amount of time spent in school zones was acceptable, but still had concerns over the amount of time spent on Cardiff Road and at the pumphouse. “When we are at 36 per cent of the time [there], that is concerning,” he said.

Although Council accepted the quarterly report for information, Councillor Dafoe subsequenlty raised an information request motion to have Administration come back to Council with the costs of ending the photo enforcement contract ahead of its natural conclusion.

Dafoe’s motion, which he requested be a recorded vote, passed 7-0.

Council is currently reviewing the Town’s Photo Enforcement Policy.

Comments

comments

11 COMMENTS

  1. This seems like evidence enough that photo radar is a cash cow and not an effective way to reduce speeders

  2. It appears that the contractor sees the writing on the wall and is padding his bank account as much as he can before he gets fired! This was obvious right from the start. If certain members of council had not put the fear of “an increase in property taxes” on the block just prior to the vote for getting rid of photo radar, this company would have been canned long ago. Unfortunately, with many seniors / retirees living on a fixed income here in Morinville, that threat decided the vote, nothing to do with safety or accident prevention! Threaten the pocket books of the citizens with an increase in taxes to pay for the white elephant (which was the main reason photo radar was brought in to Morinville in the first place) and they will vote for whatever keeps taxes down! Sorry way to run a town!

    • Well Will, some seniors/retirees may have indeed been worried about the “threat“ to increase taxes, but would just like to remind you that it was seniors/retirees who started the petition; walked the streets getting signatures and getting the issue to Council in the required time and eventually to the vote. Not all seniors felt threatened. I think from the many comments I read that many “young“ couples felt the threat of increased taxes as much if not more than the older generation. Have a great night.

    • Sorry Marta… If even YOU remember this come the next election, I’ll be mighty surprised! How many actual letters and/or emails have you or your friends and neighbours directed to our Council on this (or any other issue for that matter)!

      In my experience, most residents of this community “Rant & Rave” and do little else. Most cannot even find the time to attend the multitude of Open Houses put on by the town or attend any Council meetings.

      So quit your bellyaching and get up and actually do something about the problem – GET INVOLVED!!

      have a nice day

      James

  3. where can i go to talk about signage???? (actual street traffic signs that is missing???? this sign could be a reason for tickets!)

  4. i’m all for police presence and giving out tickets, but not this cash greedy XXXXX that is only out for his 70% from the ticket and no safety at all.

  5. Very interesting…. In the petition to get rid of photo radar, the town spent a good amount of money to get the general public on side favoring photo radar as a safety tool. This report, simply put, shows that photo radar is nothing but a cash cow. I’m glad to see that the town council is starting to see through the Director of Corporate Operations’ smoke and mirrors. I feel confident in writing that the vast majority of citizens in the town of Morinville would vote out photo radar today.

    Here are a few more questions that the council may wish to ask the Director of Corporate Operations: How many tickets issued on the three exits (Cardiff Road, Pump house & cemetery) were issued with traffic exiting the town in the transition speed zone? Those numbers should be easy to produce and will further inform the council that these exits are merely a created speed trap. As an example to this question, let’s use Cardiff Road. I would be willing to bet that the majority of tickets were issued east bound past the entrance to the Glens versus any westbound traffic.
    I think it would also benefit council to know how many accidents occurred in these three exits that were directly related to speed, since the inception of the photo radar. And how many accidents in the town of Morinville proper were caused solely by speeding and fines issued to confirm speeding was the cause?
    I’m sure photo radar was sold to the town council of the day as a safety tool. But when I read that it was put in place to pay for the white elephant MCC and when you read the comparative chart, anyone who says it isn’t a tax on driving or a cash cow is naive.

  6. Response to Will re his comment about “certain members of Council had not put the fear of an increase of property taxes on the block just prior to the vote for getting rid of photo radar, this company would have been canned long ago” – from my memory it was basically only ONE member of Council and that was the Mayor who constantly talked about the potential tax increase at every opportunity. Also Administration was known for quoting tax increases when questioned on this subject. I would like to clarify and state that not all Councillors were using tax increases and in fact the bulk of the councillors tried very hard to remain neutral throughout the petition and voting process.

  7. Generate funding for the municipality, Where my $4400 taxes are going. this city generate what? 30 millions in revenue each years, where this money is going.

  8. Mr. Bertschi’s reply via Facebook to this story is full of contradiction. Let’s get the facts straight…it was him and the council of that day that brought photo radar in to bear on the citizens of Morinville and as he writes, to save taxes and put the money into the white elephant that he and the council of the day created. Let’s be perfectly clear about this…Photo radar (whatever you call it – a tax on driving or a cash cow) shows up on your writing and Mr. Yves Leduc points out the aftermath of what happened as a result of yours and the council’s decision.
    With that said, let’s add a little bit more clarity to this. The current mayor and current council are left to clean up the tax on driving, or cash cow that was left by the previous council. Kudo’s to them for trying to find a way to help the citizens of Mornivlle.

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