Photo Radar Open House draws 80

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.

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  1. I have just returned from an out-of-country trip and I would like to commend Calli on yet another well-written article on a very controversial topic.

    I do, however, have a couple of observations and/or comments as follows:

    You noted that Mr. Kaminski’s surname was withheld “…intentionally…”. Given that Bruce’s surname IS public knowledge (should one merely wish to do some research), was there any particular reason Ms. Stromner declined to divulge that information?

    The Town of Morinville, while funding this so-called ‘information session’ from taxpayer dollars, did NOT (as was pointed out!) invite any proponents of the proposed bill. Why not? The absence of a dissenting voice is hardly a hallmark of what one would call a ‘DEMOCRATIC-type” of process. If the Mayor or even a senior member of the Administration would care to answer that question, via THIS media, those of us who were unable to attend the session would be appreciative.

    Here’s an interesting bit of information for your readers: In order for the petition to be valid, it was necessary to collect the signatures of TEN PER CENT (10%) of ALL the residents of Morinville – men, women and children. However, ONLY ELIGIBLE VOTERS in the Town will be allowed to vote for or against the proposed By-Law. The number of eligible voters obviously is significantly fewer than the total population and yet the petition managed to be valid. Quite a feat, by any stretch of the imagination!

    Finally, the 80-odd folks who showed up for this little shindig are to be congratulated for at least having the interest in getting some answers. The other 9,000-odd residents who couldn’t be bothered to turn up might have had it right to stay home with their families, given that not many (according to Calli’s article) answers appear to have been provided.

    • Yes, basic research highlighted Mr. Kaminski’s name. However he was adamant that it not be used for the purposes of a media interview. Draw whatever conclusions you will. I obliged the interviewee.

      • Yet another hoping-to-be-faceless bureaucrat, eh?

        Do they REALLY believe we’re all that stupid??

        What a shame!

  2. I am deeply concerned with the way the ballot question will be phrased.

    A YES vote means no and a NO vote means yes to photo radar! ! ! ! ! !

    There had to be a way to ask a more direct, straight forward question.

    I believe that the majority of residents wish to continue with photo radar, albeit with different enforcement practices, but with the questions format, I’m not sure the result of the vote will prove that.


  3. I was one of the 80 citizens who attended the open house, to put it bluntly, I was very disappointed by the presentation the town put on.

    I attended because I thought it would be an open forum where both sides would present their views and answer questions from the public, instead all I found was some booths set up with misleading statistics.
    There were some bar graphs set up comparing hours spent in a school zone to tickets issued, at first glance it looked like a lot of tickets issued with very little time spent monitoring the zone. on closer inspection, 200 hours monitoring a zone, 1400 ticket’s issued. The most for any school zone, and in the most controversially one operated.

    Some of the information I got from the presentation was that Photo Radar is only active for 35 hours a week, a normal work week for the average worker, yet the town argues that they would have to hire 3 or more Community Peace Officers to replace photo radar if it were abolished in our town

    Close to 28,000 photo radar tickets have been issued since the program started, this is after monitoring 5,000,000 vehicles, this works out to 0.54% This startling figure constitutes a speed problem in Morinville.

    These were some of the figures they used to try to sway me into embracing Photo Radar, it didn’t work, I still see an administration blinded by the easy money photo radar brings into the community. An administration which tries to blind us as well by saying that it is for safety.

    In closing, I have but 2 questions for the town and my fellow citizens to ponder

    In a free democratic society, should we not have a say in how we are to be policed, and how we feel our police should protect us. (I think some people believe laws are meant to control us and not protect us)

    Second Question, how many of the 28,000 recipients of photo radar tickets do you think could had been drinking prior to committing the offence.

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