Morinville resident Kari Christensen shares her photo radar concerns to residents, while Morinville Director of Corporate Operations, David Schaeffer, adds his thoughts. – Calli Stromner Photo
by Calli Stromner
Morinville – Roughly 80 people attended a public Open House on March 26 to learn more about how photo enforcement is conducted within the Town of Morinville. Council members, town administrators, RCMP officers, and the third-party contractor, Independent Traffic Services (ITS), were all on hand to offer information.
Kari Christensen came to the open house armed with pictures of one ITS vehicle parked near her house and had questions as to how ITS employees capture speeds and why they idle their vehicles for hours at a time while taking naps or filling out crossword puzzles. She lives on Grandin Drive across from G.H. Primeau School, near the end of the school zone.
“If they’re talking about traffic safety and pedestrian safety, then they should be in the school zone. There are two crosswalks not being monitored at all,” said Christensen, adding the parking spot in front of her family home is a popular vantage point for photo enforcement activities. She doesn’t understand why the photo enforcement vehicle parks there during off-peak hours or why it seems to always park close to the 50 kph speed limit sign located to the south of her property on Grandin Drive. “They’re not catching (speeders) as they are driving through the school zone; they’re catching them as they’re coming up to that 50 sign.”
Brochures distributed by the Town to open house attendees state that “there is no such thing as a transition zone” for the purposes of traffic enforcement even though Alberta Transportation defines a “transition zone as a short section of roadway posted with a speed limit lower that typical rural highway speeds in order to facilitate a transition between rural highway and urban roadway with a much lower speed limit.” Christensen believes that ITS employees are targeting drivers where speed limits change to generate more revenue and they may not always be focused on the task at hand.
“We’ve had quite a bit of conversation about where they’re placing the third party vehicle. Their vehicle isn’t in the correct spot; they’re doing crossword puzzles; they’re sleeping and we know that because we’ve approached the vehicle and seen it,” said Christensen.
Morinville resident and former police officer Kevin Wedick echoed Christensen’s concerns about photo enforcement vehicle placement. “I watch this guy…and he’ll sit at the very end of the (school zone) and you drive and you go through the school zone at 30 (kph) the entire distance and you see the 50 (kph) sign and in that last 20-25 metres as you start to make the turn, you’re going 10 (kph) over and you’re getting a ticket.”
Wedick says he supports photo traffic enforcement in principle, but wants to see more oversight from the RCMP and the Town and wants to see photo enforcement done more ethically. “I support (photo enforcement) 100 per cent. All I’m saying is that if you follow what St. Albert’s doing, the City of Edmonton and the others, they’ll tell you the same thing: they don’t work the first 50 to 75 meters in lower speed zones.”
ITS owner Bruce (last name intentionally not provided) insists their enforcement practices are sound, including when they park beside buildings. “There are several different tactics we use. Sometimes we’re a little bit more covert,” said Bruce. “We want to get away from people thinking they can drive 65 in a 50 zone. We want to get people away from that mindset of how fast can I go before I get a ticket?”
Despite the abundance of dialogue at the open house, the one voice that was not represented was that of petitioner Cliff Haryett, although he did attend as an observer. “We don’t really have anything to add at this point,” said Haryett, indicating that the Town did not invite him to participate. “We’ll stay quiet and let the people vote. It’s in their hands now.”
Morinville electors will have the opportunity to cast their vote on the issue during the second week of April. The advance vote takes place on April 9 from 4-8 p.m. at the MCCC and on April 12 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Rendez-Vous Centre. The regular vote takes place on April 14 from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the MCCC.