Letter: Concerned Photo Radar Citizens respond

speed sign-webThere have been quite a number of articles, letters and comments published concerning the upcoming photo radar vote on April 14th in Morinville, with many statistics and other statements made in support of retaining photo radar. Some of these however are questionable.

1/ Members of Morinville’s Town Council, Administration and the Traffic and Safety Committee have stated that the petition and resulting proposed by-law are poorly worded, since the term “Photo Radar” was used instead of “Photo Laser”. The challenge to this is to be found with the Town’s own signage:

  • As of April 1st, turning EAST off Highway 2 onto Cardiff Road, the sign clearly states PHOTO RADAR ENFORCED. Look for yourself!
  • If any of the above-mentioned parties were aware of this, why is the wording of either the petition or the proposed by-law even an issue?
  • Perhaps the Provincial Solicitor General’s Department, responsible for conducting the audits of Morinville’s photo radar program would be interested in the signage inconsistencies

2/ As well, international studies from countries such as Australia and the United States have been used in support of the photo radar argument. Unfortunately, like any set of statistics or data comparisons, the risk of likening apples to oranges does exist. Do any of these studies actually relate to Morinville’s present photo radar situation? The Town’s Director of Corporate Operations (who has apparently been overseeing photo enforcement programs in Devon and Morinville for about 11 years) has stated “Speeding in Morinville in itself is not an issue.” (From the St. Albert Gazette article posted 3/26/14.)

3/ Data from the Town’s Mar. 26 Open House revealed that Photo Radar is active for about 35/40 hours per week. This is a normal work week for one average worker, yet the town argues for a requirement to hire three (or more) Community Peace Officers and purchase another vehicle to replace photo radar if it were abolished! While there are other options available, such as entering into a contract or Memorandum of Understanding with Sturgeon County, it would appear that neither Council nor Administration have taken the time to examine any other possibilities.

4/ Other information given at the Open House indicated that some 5,000,000 vehicles have been checked and about 28,000 photo radar tickets issued since the program began. This works out to 0.54%. Do these numbers truly constitute a speeding problem in Morinville?

In closing, it has been written, “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?”

It is up to you Morinville to exercise your voting privilege so, on April 14th, get out and vote “YES” to eliminate photo radar in Morinville.

James O’Brien on behalf of
Concerned Photo Radar Citizens

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13 Comments

  1. I do agree the town needs to work out some issues in regards to Photo radar. However if you vote yes to get rid of it please think about the alternative. How will the town replace 350,000 in revenue? TAX INCREASE.
    Please be wise and Vote NO on April 14th.

    • If you go back to the inception of photo radar.laser in Morinville our former Mayor and Council publically stated the revenue generated from this program was to be directed in to community initiatives from assisting seniors with transportation, funding town festivals and of course off setting the cultural center. I am disappointed that our current mayor has changed direction and is now threatening tax increases should the program be scrapped. I personally support traffic safety initiatives but have difficulty with my observations of the civilian run enforcement initiative. The contractors receive minimal training and have no supervision while working our streets. They only get compensated if tickets are issued. Whats next for privatization? Next time you attend court in Morinville you will note that Provincial court judges have been replaced by justices. Justices are made up of Lawyers and in many cases retired police officers. Prosecutors have also been replaced by again retired police officers.This now explains the 100% conviction rates our local media and council have boasted about in our courts. I can tell you that when we had independant provincial court judges and trained prosecutors the conviction rates were 50 – 50, 50- 60. You never saw the conviction rates we have today. When you look behind the bench in court you will note the scales of justice.which today are tilted in one direction. Again is this about safety or generating revenue. I can tell you having testified in traffic court with actual prosecutors and provincial court judges the quality of enforcement would improve as the credibility of our current system would be taken to task. I remember as a young member working Morinville Highway patrol in the eighties that our Judges on the bench made it clear to enforce the Traffic Safety Act not the “Poultry Act” (Chicken $%#@ Act). .

    • Karen, If the town of Morinville needs $350,000.00 in revenue for their local social programs let them get it honestly. So what next – the town needs a new curling rink so they make a law that you need to stop a half mile in front of a stop sign so the police can fine more people? A “fine” is a charge for breaking the law not to raise funds for community programs. When legislation is passed and enforced it should not be a taxation measure. That is what makes us all disrespect ALL laws, even the good ones – when we are subject to this hypocrisy.

  2. I am told there are few to no officers interested in traffic enforcement full time. Many consider it the least favorite enforcement duty which would result in ridiculous turnover even if we could find someone. Additional officers come at a cost to tax payers where our current program does not.

    Not sure how you define a speeding problem as only a single speeder could be fatal to someone in our community. Photo radar enforcement is only one tool in a comprehensive list of enforcement strategies to reduce speeding in Morinville.

    The simple fact remains this: You speed and you risk getting fined. This should remain the case in Morinville just as it does in other communities across Alberta. I do not wish to “subsidize” speeders through my community by removing photo radar enforcement. We can use photo radar to reduce speeding and use income from fines for recreation opportunities in Morinville. Vote NO to KEEP photo radar enforcement in Morinville…

  3. Well Folks, if you had been paying attention from the very start when photo radar was first proposed in Morinville you would see that it was introduced as a way to pay for the community center and nothing else! Ms Proux, the town population was tricked into thinking that photo radar was needed in Morinville and now that we have this albatross of a community center that we now must pay for, keeping photo radar to pay for this is wrong!
    Thomas, if photo radar is such an important tool for the safety of Morinville residents, why is 95% of the money gathered from photo radar going to paying down the community center and supposedly the remaining 5% going to support safety initiatives within town? Don’t kid yourselves, council of the day brought in photo radar strictly for funding the white elephant and now that it is place they will threaten higher taxes if it is taken away. I have asked since the very beginning to have better crosswalk signage and line painting and better lighting at important cross walks and always the same answer, no money in the budget! Well there would be if the photo radar money was going where it SHOULD have! Pretty sneaky, but not surprising!!

  4. I hail from the great state of Maine where photo radar (laser radar or anything else you want to call it) is prohibited. For the main reason it gets abused. You mentioned apples to oranges but i think if any other place on earth you can compare Maine would be it. Small towns are the same no matter what country they are in. Once again Mr. O’Brien tells the truth, like it or not!

  5. You break the law, you get punished. It’s as simple as that. Why is it okay to drive 60 km or more in a 50 zone. Or 40 km or more in our school zone. Or 70 km or more by Tim Hortons. Simple fact is if you weren’t speeding excessively, you wouldn’t be fined. If I happen to enjoy more amenities or pay less taxes because someone is driving 10 km or more over the speed limit endangering people’s lives, then, I’m okay with that.

  6. I agree that if you speed you should pay. However, from what I understand the photo radar company is paid on a percentage per ticket basis. If this is true I fully understand how this would be abused. I would like to see them an employee of the town, paid an hourly wage, and the town decide when and where to be. Another thing not yet brought up in this debate but something I am curious of- if we are so concerned about paying for MCCC, how are we paying for the new town office?

    • You’re absolutely correct Pat… they ARE paid a percentage.

      On the issue of the Town offices – there remain a number of unanswered questions about THAT little deal too. In addition, the Town has spent taxpayer $$$ on a number of other different “studies” and/or ‘experiments’ which have NEVER BEEN RELEASED to those who pay the bills. This should also be cause for concern.

      You’ve probably read about “the culture of entitlement” re: our Provincial government. I venture to say that perhaps this has crept into our Municipal government as well.

      Please keep asking the questions, but don’t hold your breath waiting for any answers. Our Mayor and Councillors are really quite adept at NOT being “open” and “transparent” on a host of topics… they tend to TELL us that they’re on top of things, yet they haven’t been quite as good at SHOWING us any evidence of this… Talk is cheap, right?

      You have a nice day…

  7. A letter well written James, and as a relative new comer to putting my name to this, I salute you for the dedicated hard work you have put toward a noble cause.

    From what I have read from the comments, I get the feeling that most people who want to keep Photo Enforcement seem to think we advocate speeding. This of course is not true. What I advocate for, and I’m sure a lot will agree with me, is ethical law enforcement. The problem I have seen with the current operation of Photo Enforcement is the blatant disrespect for the guidelines and definitions within the guidelines. I have seen the previous town council try to say that the guidelines are just that, and don’t need to be followed. This of course is false. The Minister in Charge of traffic who drafted these guidelines decreed that automated enforcement officers must adhere to them.

    When I was at the open house, I was told that Morinville does have an agreement with Sturgeon County with regards to policing. Under this agreement, Morinville pays for 10 RCMP police officers and Sturgeon County pays for 7. The Town’s Director of Corporate Operations said that this arrangement allows for 24/7 policing in Morinville and surrounding area. If I have done my math correctly, this leaves 3 to 4 police officers on duty at any given time to patrol Morinville and Sturgeon County. This may give credence to those who think Photo enforcement frees up these over burdened police officers. However, if we look at the cause of accidents, speed is not a factor, if you look at the collateral damage or severity of an accident, speed is definitely a factor. This has never been denied. When accidents do happen, and police need to respond, depending on the severity of the accident, it could tie up our entire compliment of on duty police officers for up to 8 hours. Is this acceptable? Statistics will prove that a majority of these accidents happen on the highways out side of our town limits. In short, getting a ticket 3 weeks after an accident does nothing to free up our police officers when a ticket issued 20 minutes before the accident could have the potential of preventing the accident. Better to receive a ticket before your funeral then after it.

  8. I sincerely hope that Morinville decides to rid itself of the disrespectful, predatory, Big Brother, camera approach to enforcing traffic laws. A ticket in the mail is very poor substitute for an officer at your vehicle window. It is clear that these cameras are being used to generate income. They are purposely planted wherever there is a sudden and obscure reduction in speed and thousands of people are charged with speeds barely in excess of these speed limits. If the town and the police really cared about the real transgressors going 20 and 30 km over the speed limit they would rig their cameras so that they sent a signal to a police monitor with the speed and the location of the offender so the police could immediately locate the real lawbreakers instead of targeting honest people just to make a buck. What a cynical way to treat honest citizens. Good luck Morinville – I hope your people see the light and let your town administrators and council know that you will not be bullied into this sort of hidden taxation in this dishonest way.

  9. Unfortunately in the 14 years I’ve lived in Morinville I have been blown by other vehicles on the main streets all to frequently. But I will say that I believe a lot of it is through traffic due to the secondary highway. I live by the 4 way stop by Grandin Drive. Too many times I’ve seen vehicles blow the stop sign coming into town, and heard numerous crashes. I talked to people who were running for council last fall and gave my 2 cents worth, with a fairly cheap solution. Put up a revolving red light on the stop sign, and a warning sign 50 feet back saying stop ahead. I have seen the RCMP watching that sign, but they can’t be there 24/7.

    Personally I believe the photo radar is not about safety but a cash cow. And 3 bylaw officers appear to be a waste when they have nothing better to do than drive by peoples lawns determining if they are 2 long. Last year my son mowed my lawn on a Thursday. Saturday the bylaw kid came by and gave me a warning for “unsightly yard” due to my “grass being 2 long”. I looked at him astounded pointed to my lawn and stated it was cut 2 days ago. He then informed me it was because my edgings were too long. Well it was a Saturday, and it had rained all day. Who cuts/trims their lawn in the rain???? Get rid of them.

    Its about time Council showed some financial responsibility when playing with others peoples money.

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