By Stephen Dafoe
Morinville – Photos believed to show a vehicle belonging to Morinville’s Automated Traffic Enforcement operator hiding behind the pump house near the East Boundary Road have prompted a few emails and a brief discussion in Council Chambers May 28.
Acting on previous information from Administration that the vehicle was instructed to operate with its nose visible to eastbound and westbound traffic, Morinville resident Linda Lyons sent the photos to Administration and media over the weekend.
David Schaefer, Morinville’s Director of Corporate Operations, said during the May 28 meeting he was comfortable with the vehicle’s location after investigating the matter.
“In review of the provincial guidelines, the operator is operating in accordance with those guidelines,” Schaefer said, adding he had also met and reviewed the photos with the RCMP, who were also comfortable with the way it was operating. “I was on sight yesterday and because of the location, the fact that speeding in Morinville does continue to be a problem, and the operator is operating in accordance to the provincial guidelines, I would say that everything is OK.”
Schaefer said while he believed it was good that drivers slow down when they observe an RCMP vehicle, the intention of a posted speed limit and speeding laws is for the law to be followed whether the driver is being observed or not. “Since I started in October, Morinville speeding continues to be an issue, and as a result of that, maybe it is the ticket that needs to be observed and that will create the required change,” Schaefer said.
Councillor Sheldon Fingler said he did not like the idea of Integrated Traffic Services, Morinville’s contractor, concealing their vehicles from drivers. “I thought a while back we had said we would set higher standards, and we had said something specificly about not hiding behind the buildings,” Fingler said, adding if it hadn’t been previously stated it should be.
Fingler said in Edmonton he has observed enforcement vehicles that are not only in full view but well identified with decals. “It’s designed more as an education tool in advance and people do slow down when they see it,” he said. “I remember talking that we weren’t going to hide behind the building behind the fence. Yes, we have a problem with speeding, but I’d like to see us focus on education and that we investigate the vehicles in Edmonton that are all decaled up. That provides a much better reminder. You put it in construction zones and it is clearly, clearly labelled. I think we have to re-evaluate the program. We have to stop speeding, but at the same point it’s been talked about before.”
Schaefer said the Town’s operator is following provincial guidelines. “There is no formal policy that was adopted. The province has very specific guidelines that they must follow,” Schaefer said, adding speeding in Morinville is a serious problem. “The average speeds, especially on 100 [Avenue] and 100 [Street] – it would mean the immediate removal of your licence. The reality is there are not enough people out there to catch those types of offenders. Photo enforcement is only one tool, and if we are visible, we won’t catch those offenders. We are catching them with photo enforcement. Those tickets are forwarded to the RCMP so they can be addressed where they need to be.”
Morinville resident Linda Lyons, who raised the issue of the operator’s alleged concealed parking, said she and her husband Cliff view the practice as an unethical one. “We are just as concerned as everyone else regarding the ongoing speeding problems in town but do not believe that hiding your photo radar vehicle is the answer to reducing speeding,” Lyons told Morinville News. “As stated by Lisa Holmes in the Aug. 28 council meeting and written in [a Morinville News] Aug. 29 article, all the photo radar vehicles in St. Albert are in full view.”
Traffic Safety report called for
Following up on the photo radar discussion, Deputy Mayor Lisa Holmes called on Administration to bring some details to Council Chambers on the progress of the Traffic and Pedestrian Safety Review project.
“We had the open house last June and nothing since,” Holmes said. “It would be really nice if at one of our two [remaining] meetings we could, whether the report is ready or not, come and maybe we can have that conversation about where it’s at. I think we are all waiting to get that report to move ahead.”
Schaefer said Administration has reviewed all the public input from the June 5, 2012 open house, made significant changes based on input, and put the matter to the Traffic Safety Review Committee in May. He is hoping to have the report completed by the end of June.