Cliff Haryett poses with his petition to have photo radar abolished in Morinville. The Sunshine Lake resident began collecting signatures Friday. He needs 900 to have the petition presented to Council for consideration. – Stephen Dafoe Photo
By Stephen Dafoe
Morinville – If Sunshine Lake resident Cliff Haryett has his way; photo radar will be a thing of the past in town. Haryett is looking for 900 signatures for his petition to abolish photo radar in Morinville and intends to have all the signatures within 45 to 60 days.
“It’s all over safety,” he said. “They are trying to sell us photo radar and [I take issue with] their lack of transparency and their collecting money versus public safety. Few to no cross walk lights were put up, even though mega dollars have been collected [through photo radar] over the past few years.”
Haryett is concerned with what he sees as unethical practices of the Town’s photo radar contractor, particularly hiding the observation vehicle behind buildings. The Town’s Director of Corporate Operations, David Schaefer, has defended the practice as being acceptable under provincial guidelines governing automated enforcement. Haryett questions the practice and said Morinville should set itself to a higher standard of ethics if the purpose of automated enforcement is safety.
“Why are they monitoring so closely in front of Tim Hortsons?” Haryett asks. “Myself personally, I make 500 trips across Sunnydale Road to my mailbox and back every year, but we ask them why they don’t monitor between these two parks. No change. Nothing has changed over three years. They told me to wait until the new Traffic and Pedestrian Safety Review was done. We read it and it appears nothing is going to change.”
The lack of what he sees as a response to his concerns has prompted him to get 900 signatures calling on Council to enact a bylaw to boot photo radar out of the community and turn speed enforcement over to the RCMP and Morinville’s Community Peace Officers, a boots-on-the-ground approach he believes will be more effective in curbing speeders and keeping the community safe.
Haryett said he framed the petition such that the proposed bylaw would prohibit the Town from simply eliminating the contractor and taking on the manning of the cameras and radar guns themselves. “I want the boots on the ground, moving around town where they should be, and monitoring the whole town instead of specific areas.”
The resident said he is aware the sudden loss of photo radar revenue would mean an increased burden to the taxpayer, but he is confident it is one many would gladly pay. “It is going to cost the average homeowner, I would estimate, in the neighbourhood of $50 per household per year,” he said. “But it would also take the frustration the general public has with these operators away, and the general public should feel safer. It is well worth that $50 per household to do that.”
Signatures the first step
Haryett said once the 900 signatures have been collected, the Town of Morinville has 30 days to verify the signatures as eligible. Once verified, the petition would be presented to Council to deal with; however, it does not guarantee the bylaw Haryett is proposing would be proposed or voted on. He is hoping for resolution without need to call for a plebiscite.
The Sunshine Lake resident will spend the campaign season door knocking along side many candidates, looking for signatures and taking advantage of the heightened interest in municipal matters to press his issue. Additionally, Haryette is planning to catch voters as they leave the polling stations Oct. 21.
“If we put the boots on the ground, a person who gets four two-point demerits in a year – that person will also get a letter from the driver’s review board, which will also put more attention into him and his habit, then four tickets,” Haryette said, adding he believes the demerit points are more effective than any ticket received weeks later in the mail.
Those interested in learning more about Haryette’s petition can call 780-939-6885 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.