by Calli Stromner
Morinvillians will continue to see photo enforcement vehicles operated by Independent Traffic Services (ITS) parked around town after Council voted unanimously to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding with the company for ongoing work at Tuesday’s Council meeting.
The photo enforcement contract was put out to tender on the Alberta Purchasing Connection website back in July, said Chief Administrative Officer Deb Oyarzun. “We did receive 15 or 16 inquiries about the RFP,” she told Council, however only two complete proposals ended up being submitted by the deadline – one from Redflex Traffic Systems from Phoenix, Arizona and the other from ITS and their new business partner, Global Traffic Services.
According to the CAO, ITS and Global Traffic Services have recently merged and are providing private traffic enforcement services to 21 out of the 30 Alberta municipalities who use automated photo enforcement.
Oyarzun told Council that the Traffic Advisory Committee (TAC) reviewed both submissions and weighed them against a standard set of criteria that included cost comparisons, experience, the use of current technology, and the ability to provide administrative support. “TAC and Administration are both recommending ITS for a new contract based on the criteria,” said Oyarzun.
But some Councillors wondered why Town staff did not provide more detailed information about the option of having the Town take over its own photo enforcement. Deputy Mayor Stephen Dafoe subsequently put forward a motion to defer a decision on awarding a contract until administration came back with further information surrounding those costs. That motion was defeated in a vote of 3-4 with Councillors Gord Putnam, Rob Ladouceur, Brennan Fitzgerald and Nicole Boutestein opposed.
With a decision made on outsourcing photo enforcement, Council then entered into a lengthy debate on whether to extend the current month-to-month contract or to enter into a formal contract in principle until the appropriate policies and protocols to guide the town’s photo enforcement activities have been created and approved by Council. “One of the things in the RFP is that the contractor would have to follow a protocol approved by Council,” stated Councillor Ladouceur. “I don’t think I’d be comfortable entering into a contract without having the protocol in place.”
“Let’s say our policy says we only want to enforce in school zones and construction zones, but the contractor disagrees?” asked Mayor Lisa Holmes about the option to enter into a formal agreement with ITS/Global.
While Council was unified in their concern about signing a contract without having a clear direction for the contractor to follow, CAO Oyarzun cautioned that delaying a decision or continuing with the month-to-month contract might have unintended consequences. “If you choose not to make a decision, then you could be at risk,” she said, adding that ITS could cancel the current contract on 30 days notice.
Council ultimately opted for a more formal legal agreement and directed administration to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding with ITS/Global to ensure that photo enforcement services are not interrupted. Once Council defines and approves the photo enforcement policy, the intent will be to negotiate a formal contract with ITS/Global, which includes a requirement to adhere to the future Council policy.