Ask-A-Candidate Question 9

Editor’s Note: As part of our ongoing coverage of Election 2010, is accepting question from our readers, which will be published anonymously for candidates to answer. Please note that only candidates will be able to respond to the questions asked by our readers. Links to questions asked will be archived in our Ask-A-Candidate section. See link in navigation bar above.


A recent article in this publication stated that the photo radar contractor racked up 8,662 tickets (56% of them from out of town) for a total of $1, 088, 534 in fines!. Seeing as how the population of Morinville is only 6,775, how can anyone in their right mind expect to get more people to visit when all visitors can expect is a ticket ranging from $80 to $$$ who knows! What are your plans for photo radar? Can we expect to get this greedy photo radar contractor out of Morinville and start getting visitors in to boost the economy within the local area?

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  1. PLEASE NOTE – Only Candidates may post comments to this posting. welcomes reader comments on our articles, but we wish to keep these particular segments open for candidates alone so that readers do not have to separate who is and is not vying for their vote.

  2. Good Afternoon Just for a little background…I have received and paid a photo radar ticket. One. I learned my lesson quickly.

    For the purposes of this comment I am going to use the numbers provided in the question for my response as I do not have the exact numbers on hand. In order to make the math easier I am going to round down to $1,000,000 in fine revenue. For the purposes of this discussion I will also allow that all fines are collected at full issued value. They are not as some are overturned in court and some are reduced. Some do not get paid but will be when the guilty party goes to renew their license plates, drivers licenses, vehicle registration, etc.

    The revenue from automated enforcement is divided between three organizations. First, the Province of Alberta takes approximately 15% to administer their end of the program. Using the $1M that would be $150,000. I believe the remaining revenue is split 60/40 between the Town of Morinville and the contractor that provides the service with the Town allocation being the 60%. This means $510,000.00 in revenue to the Town using the assumptions above.

    What does the Town do with the revenue? Only two things. First, we were approached by the RCMP for an allocation of 1% of the revenue so they could conduct public education programs. This includes such initiatives as bicycle training for our children, car seat demonstrations for our young parents and seat belt safety demonstrations. The council saw there is very good value in this type of education and voted to double their ask to 2%.

    That leaves in the neighborhood of $500,000. The Town Council, rightly, did not want these dollars as being seen as a cash cow and passed a motion that all remaining photo radar revenue be allocated to the dedicated reserve for the construction cost of the new Cultural Centre. The obvious benefit to this reserve is that when we have to pay our share of approximately $6,000,000 for this facility we will not have to borrow as much money. In future years the fine revenue will go into this same reserve to be used exclusively for the repayment of the $3 million debenture the council has authorized for the construction. Over the past 4 years we have allocated $2 million in additional dollars into this same reserve to reduce the required debenture. The past council, as part of the borrowing by-law, also requires the debenture to be paid back in 5 years. Once that debenture has been repaid the funds from photo radar can be put into a reserve for the next major Municipal amenity in Town. And the cycle starts all over. Long term sustainability planning at its finest.

    Clearly with 8,662 photo radar tickets issued (the numbers quoted in the question) in the first year of operation we clearly have a public safety issue. This works out to just under 24 tickets per day! This number of tickets does not include speeding tickets issued by the RCMP or our Peace Officers. If the experience of other Municipalities holds true, the percentage of fines between resident/non-resident changes dramatically after the second year as the residents realize having a safe community to raise a family is much more important than speeding through Town.

    As far as it being a hindrance to our local economy? I do not believe that photo radar impacts on our local economy in any significant manner. I have recieved two letters from non-residents (Barrhead & Carbondale)that have told me they will no longer continue to support the businesses in Morinville until we do away with photo radar. They informed me they are now going to do their buiness in either St. Albert or Edmonton. I can assure you, both of those Cities also employ photo radar in addition to red light and speed on green cameras. I do not suspect they will find either of those jursidictions any more friendly towards people hurtling through their streets than we are.

    So all that begs the question. Do you Mayor Bertschi support photo radar? The short answer is yes. As your Mayor I always have, and always will have public safety as a top priority. This includes supporting the RCMP and our Volunteer Fire Department. I fully supported photo radar when we brought it in and will continue to support it going forward.


  3. I agree with what the mayor stated.
    Further to that if a speed is posted at let’s say 50 irregardless if a motorist feels it is too low what right does that motorist have to exceed that limit and then complain about receiving a photo radar ticket. I just don’t get it. Speeding is against the law. I even have heard complaints from motorist who have received a written ticket from our Peace Officers for speeding, stop sign, etc.

  4. Thank you for your comments and concerns:

    Photo Radar, Photo Radar, Photo Radar… that is the number one issue apart from a pool from residents on my campaign trail. What I’m really hearing after asking questions is that they are in favour of photo radar, however not in favour on where they are placed.

    Morinville residents WANT these photo radars in our residential streets not on 100 Avenue or 100 Street; they are stating that their children do not play there.

    The Mayor and I do not see eye to eye on many issues, however on this one we do. This community has a problem with some motorists. I am not sure if they feel that we are a small town and they can get away with it.

    Unfortunately; speeding in our town seems to be the number 1 hobby for some motorists. As for your number you can see many are not following the LAW. One of the first things you learn after getting ready to put your vehicle in motion (driving); the instructor will state follow the speed limit and you will be OK. Never did I hear (or anyone else) that instructor is stating if we are running late SPEED.

    Just be around the High School prior to classes starting and after school, you would think they are in a drag race, with their parent new pickup (if only the parent knew what their new truck was being used for). Look at 99 Street between Sobeys and the County Office; motorists are using this road for a short cut, which is good, but they also use it as a speedway.

    I myself have a heavy foot, however I only speed (and have been caught) on the highway. I do not complain; I didn’t follow the law now I must pay the piper. Why do we have so many concerns/complaints, I believe it is because photo radar is new in Morinville and some resident do not believe in a safe town.
    Sorry but I do believe in a safe town and the law must be followed by all or what kind of a society would we have… As for visitors or businesses coming into and out of our great Town; they will comes with or without photo radar. If this was not true then all of our major surrounding municipalities would not have a traffic jam problem and would be a ghost town with no businesses.

    I agree that photo radar is not the only solution; it was only a bandage to the situation (however it is working – telling motorist to slow down and making our town safer). I will be asking the Transportation Committee (if elected as your Mayor) to review not only photo radar but how to make our roads have more of a smooth traffic flow.

    Once again thank you, Joseph Trapani

  5. The number of $1.08 million dollars certainly is shocking and does bring up a lot of red flags to me when it comes to photo radar. This is a widely talked about issue and a personal one to a lot of people who have been hit with photo radar tickets in the past months. I don’t disagree with the use of photo radar, but I do believe that, in the case of our community, the mandate of the use of photo radar needs to be reexamined. I’m sure that everyone in town can point out a couple of places (probably some in your own neighbourhood) where cars speed through and people become concerned about safety. Personally, I’ve seen this in my area, particularly around the Sunshine Lake playground. It is also a big problem around our schools and through the downtown core during events like the Farmer’s Market on Fridays. I would like to see more use of the photo radar system in these areas – looking out for the safety of our kids or pedestrians. Most people aren’t going to complain if they get a ticket for speeding through a school zone as they know that it is a matter of public safety in that case. It is the large number of tickets that are given to residents and non-residents along the main arterial roads that make our photo radar system seem more like a ‘cash cow’ than a solution. When the contract for our current photo radar system provider comes up in the next year, I hope to be there to bring up my concerns about the management of the program and what its real purpose and mandate should be.

  6. Traffic safety is a key issue I have heard as I campaigned at almost all the Morinville households.

    There is a Traffic Safety review committee that the Town has. It meets regularly and if you have traffic safety issues then call the Town Office.

    Residents I spoke with want traffic laws enforced in Morinville. I live between a school zone and a playground. If you drive over 30km/hour in those zones you are driving in an unsafe manner. If you drive over 50 kph past my house you are doing the same.

    Author: if you have concerns with radar officers targeting specific areas maybe its because like through my school zone, drivers continue to drive in an excessive speed manner. If you’re concerned about tourists being offended by radar tickets you should know that they are likely receiving other radar tickets in their home communities!

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