by Ashley Janes
Council honours local ball player
Local athlete Zach Froment was recognized by Council on Tuesday, Nov. 26, for receiving one of Baseball Alberta’s Player of the Year Awards in the category of Pee Wee ‘AAA’. The award is presented annually and candidates are selected by their coaches. “I guess I had a pretty good year.” Froment said. Alberta Baseball dictates that the winning player must show good sportsmanship, a dedication to the game of baseball and leadership qualities, while exemplifying a high level of play on the field. Acknowledging Froment’s accomplishment is part of Town Council’s new initiative to recognize local achievements and, at the same time, invite the community into Council Chambers to celebrate.
Third Quarter Report reviewed
That same evening, Town Administration presented Council with the 3rd Quarter Report. Chief Administrative Officer, Debbie Oyarzun, explained that the review would have typically taken place earlier in the year but was delayed due to election and orientation schedules.
Key information within the report included Planning and Development statistics, which showed that Morinville surpassed its desirable and healthy growth rate; however, the statistics prove fairly consistent with 2012 activity. There were also 46 business licenses issued in the 3rd quarter with almost two thirds being generated from new applications.
Automated Traffic Enforcement Program provided by Innovative Traffic Solutions (ITS) was also given to Council. The report stated that 1,426 tickets were issued throughout the quarter which is an increase of 624 tickets when compared to the same quarter of 2012. Director of Corporate Operations, David Schaefer, was optimistic about the results. “One nice thing about this program combined with enforcement is that we do see positive actions and I think that’s a thing that needs to be highlighted. We have very high compliance.”
Councilor Stephen Dafoe had questions about the program. Specifically, why 74 hours were spent at the section of Cardiff Road between 100 Street and 94 Street when only 21 hours were spent at Morinville Public Elementary School where 89 tickets had been issued, proving that the area was susceptible to speeding traffic. “I understand that it [was] summer, children [weren’t] going to school, but I would presume they’re still going to the playground […] So, why so little time spent there?”
Schaefer assured Councillor Dafoe that the total program is being reviewed so that the hours and locations will be administered through the Traffic Advisory Committee in Morinville. Schaefer will be meeting with ITS on Thursday, Nov. 28, to discuss the future of the program.
Motion passed to move speed education sign
Immediately following, Councillor Dafoe made a motion to move the speed education sign currently posted on the far eastside of Town. He believes speed education signs are effective with most drivers because they inform them of their speed and provide an instant opportunity to correct, but that the sign in question should be in a better location. “The east end sign currently sits west of the entrance to Sunshine Estates on 87 Street and west of a school bus drop off and pick up location at the pump house,” Dafoe said. “By moving the sign east of that location, closer to East Boundary Road, drivers will be given the reminder of their speed before rather than after they enter that residential area.” Town Administration did not foresee any issue with moving the solar powered sign. Dafoe’s motion passed unanimously.
Council postpones interim budget decision
After the speed education sign motion was passed, Administration recommended that Council approve an interim operating budget in the amount of $3, 939, 936 representing 25 per cent of the 2013 operating budget to cover operational expenditures for the period of Jan. 1 to Mar. 31, 2014. Councillor Rob Ladouceur responded, stating that Council is not yet able to make an informed decision, even on an interim budget. “I would suggest that we as a Council meet and have some explanation as to this budget and some of the responsibilities when it comes to budgeting. That’s something that we really haven’t had yet.” Councillor Ladouceur then moved to postpone the decision regarding an interim budget until the Dec.10 Council meeting to ensure Councillors were in a better position to make it. The motion was passed unanimously and the discussion of an interim budget was deferred until the proposed date.
Good for you, Councillor Dafoe. Make this contractor justify his reasons for excessive monitoring of areas that are NOT safety concerns but rather easy pickings for photo radar fines! Could someone please explain to me why David Schaefer is meeting with the photo radar contractor to discuss the future of the program! This is a contractor hired by the town! He is TOLD what to do, not ASKED what should be done! We have the RCMP and the traffic advisory committee to plan and regulate the program. Have them meet with Schaefer and then he can go and TELL the contractor what will be done! I see that there were 1,426 tickets handed out. What was the total cash haul for them? When will the town publish a report detailing how much the photo radar contractor collected in fines so far this year and how that money was split up between the parties involved? This should be available to the public because there is NO reason to keep it private (Transparency breeds trust). And I’m not just interested in the amount that the contractor gets, I am also interested in how much the town is making from this annually! As a taxpayer it is my right to see any and all financial dealings that my tax dollars support!
Well Will, let me tell you a little story:
Once upon a time, some citizens of this community attempted to gather the answers to the very same questions you have just posed. In keeping with existing law, two separate FOIP (that’s Freedom of Information and Privacy legislation) requests were submitted – one to the Town and one to the Province. What came back in both cases amounted to a big fat ZERO… nada… zilch… more redacted paper than you’ve ever seen in your life! In other words we got NOTHIN’ USEFUL. Over time we did find out that Morinville does NOT pay this contractor – he gets a percentage of the revenue generated from ticket “sales”.
If you examine the Town’s audited year-end budget statement you get a pretty fair idea of just how many $$$$ are flowing into our coffers.
There may well be another comment on this very subject from another citizen (who has a MUCH better grasp of the mechanics of this whole thing), so stand by.
On the issue of who tells who to do what – we too really thought that the premise YOU were working on was the way contracts and contractors usually work. Apparently that’s NOT the way we do things here in Morinville – you know, much like that vaunted cost over-run on renovating our Town Hall Building.
By the way, you’re saying that, as a taxpayer, you have rights?? I hate to burst THAT little bubble, but you should know by now that you have only those “rights” which the government of the day ALLOWS you to have. Try sending a formal letter to the Mayor requesting the information you THINK you have a right to. If you even get a response I will be surprised because when we went that route with a previous Mayor, we got – once again – ZERO… nada… zilch…
Have a nice day!
Comment to Will – Based upon the article written June 13, 2012 – PHOTO RADAR COMING TO MORINVILLE, I have take one small excerpt out as noted below:
“The ITS owner said his staff operates anytime between the hours of dawn and dusk, first going to a location where few or no tickets have been issued. If no tickets are issued at that location, the operator moves to an area where a significant number of tickets have been issued. “It appears like we’re spending the balance of our time where the majority of the tickets are, and – realistically – we are, but we’re trying to cover the areas that there’s low ticket volumes and we’re trying to cover the areas where there is a speeding concern,” he told Council.”
Hours of operation are from dusk to dawn – and the operators go FIRST to a location where FEW or NO tickets have been issued – makes sense to me – what hours are the school kids out walking about going to school? At Dusk or dawn? After a brief period, the operator moves on to an area where a significant number of tickets have been issued (Screams cash cow to me).
There are tons of articles in Morinville News and excellent editorials by Stephen with tons of valid comments giving both sides of the good and bad of photo radar. Until the current Council TELLS Administration what type of program they want and Administration TELLS the contractor WHAT and WHERE and WHEN and HOW LONG his operators will sit at each site, it doesn’t matter how many articles or comments are written things will not change and the cash will continue to flow to ITS (photo radar company whose contract is going to end in January 2014) and cash will continue to flow into the general revenue coffers of Morinville with VERY LITTLE actually going back out into “SAFETY” programs.
This is WHY a petition has been presented to the Town of Morinville requesting a new By Law to eliminate Photo Radar from this town.
Cliff Haryett and Linda Lyons
The photo Radar is a cash cow for the contractor. operating the system ,, Mabe the town should hire another bylaw person and do the job themselves ,, probably make enough money to pay for the position and cut out the middle man (contractor),, at least the Town could use photo Radar to make the town safer! not just set up where they will make the most money and have no effect on saftey