Letter: Red light and stop sign cameras are Big Brother

Big Brother is watching over you, and it may get worse! Whoa, where did that statement come from?

Well as we all know, Town of Morinville currently has the pleasure of having 26 approved photo radar sites across town reducing speed and increasing the safety of our residents. Photo Radar otherwise known as the Automated Traffic Enforcement Program includes photo-technology specifically designed to capture a photo of a traffic related violation in conjunction with radar, laser equipment or other existing or new enforcement technology for the issuance of a traffic violation ticket and deployed in a method where a conventional traffic stop by a RCMP or Community Peace Officer was not applied.

How is it going to get worse? Recently at a Committee of the Whole Meeting, Mr. David Steer from Global Traffic Group did a presentation on Red-light Video Cameras and Stop Sign camera enforcement technology and how much safer the Town of Morinville would be using this type of enforcement and “freeing” up valuable time of the RCMP and Community Peace Officers to do other enforcement work.

The presentation I witnessed appeared to be more of a sales pitch than an information session, and I could tell that it caught the Council off guard. It should be noted that Councillor Turner made it very clear that there has been no decision in Morinville to apply this technology. Also, thanks to Councillor Stephen Dafoe for making the motion to table any discussion on this new technology until the Town’s Photo Enforcement Policy is reviewed, and to the rest of Council for unanimously agreeing to this motion.

Where are we all going with all the new software and technology and where does it stop? It appears that as long as Alberta Solicitor General approves the equipment and software it can be used for enforcement purposes and as long as Council approves the use, it can and will be implemented under the umbrella of “it’s all about safety”. One can argue that we are moving in the modern direction that allows various “tools” for use in enforcement in which we are capturing law breakers, creating the impression that we are safer because of these tools.

Are we such an evil community that we must be monitored more closely to ensure we abide by the laws of the land?

At the next Committee of the Whole Meeting, Tuesday, April 19th, our Council will be reviewing the current Automated Traffic Enforcement Technology Program Policy. We all have a voice, and our failure to use that voice is what allows this type of big brother encroachment to our freedoms grow roots and firmly plant itself into controlling our future wellbeing.

I urge you to let your voice be heard and let Council know where you want the line to be drawn when it comes to traffic enforcement (fully automated technology, where there is no tolerance or discretion allowed or more Community Peace Officers and RCMP).


Remember, it is us who have allowed “Big Brother” to open the door to invade our lives; and it is also us who have the power to close the door and keep him out. Your silence will open the door; your actions will close it.

Final Note to Council: I was pleased with your reaction to the presentation and completely understand that as for me, you were seeing this presentation for the first time. I could see your surprise and disappointment when it was assumed by some that you would rubber stamp this and implement it. I would like to thank Council for taking the time to listen to the public, guarding their concerns on the automated traffic enforcement program and I know that you will write and implement a policy based on the needs of the community and not for an economic advantage to non-resident businesses.

Thank you.
Richard Price

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  1. I’m undecided on this one as there is such a thing as too much oversight and control. However, more than once I’ve seen people blow through stop signs and red lights that had changed more than a few seconds prior because they know there are no cameras to catch them. Maybe there could be a reasonable balance, such as a red light camera on our one and only set of lights, but leave the stop signs to the discretion of law enforcement. Also, when you get an automated ticket, there is still the opportunity to go to court to explain the circumstances.

  2. My Great Uncle Bill Cust and his good buddy Father Lacombe would cry if they saw the community Morinville has become! Social and Culturally it has a tone that was not contemplated by the settlers.

    Without permission my great Uncle ran his cattle in the late 1800’s across what became Morinville. He grew and sold the first wheat in Alberta and did so without permission. The early settlers all respected each other and they expected the best out of everyone. In Morinville, it seems that we now look for and anticipate the worst out of everyone.

    Yes, the town will soon be city, a very safe one. it appears that the mentality is that evil lurks on every corner now and with every movement of a vehicle. Tragedy will strike at every turn of the wheel and every trailer parked in the wrong spot is a hazard.

    As a community we approve as tiny a residental lot as possible and then wonder why we have such traffic congestion. Streets all meet town carriageway standards, but try driving a fire truck in winter down some roads when a four wheel drive trucks is struggling to park and leave one lane.

    Non-residents and various levels of government have created a strong revenue stream in the name of traffic safety. Publish on a map and spread sheet every death and incident (close calls as well) at every location in Morinville boundaries for the last 30 years and show us that we are much safer.

    All money collected should not be a revenue stream, but instead should go to victims, MADD and traffic education. There are traffic calming measures that have not been implemented in this community. If we stand any place in Morinville, you will see stupidity, arrogance and aggression and you just cannot fix that.
    Municipal Government Act section 3, speaks to the mandate that a municipality must provide good government (which this council does), provide services and a shopping list of other municipal items, and develop and maintain safe and viable communities.

    Natural person power is a key element in the foundation of the expanded authority given to municipalities in the Municpal Government Act of 1994. It was not intended to be a delegation of certain decisions and common sense to employees without true oversight. The mandate is clear but are we moving to far into this game and losing sight of the real reason.

    How do the other provinces keep people safe we they do not use this type of approach. BC for example does not appear to have suffered.

    Council was blindsided by this new traffic enhancement issue. Let’s hope they truly study the issue and make the best decision for our community.

    Now I will just shut my mouth and go for a coffee at Green Bean because I like leaving my money in my community!
    Rocking Ron

  3. Richard,..great letter, and yes, good on the two councilors for having their stick on the ice and stopping this “sales” presentation. This presentation that Mr. David Steer from GTG made leads me to believe that he was under the understanding that this was a done deal. This would have come from someone within council or someone in town administration that heads up the traffic department (Hmmmmmm).

    In response to Mr. Henry’s comment “there is still an opportunity to go to court and explain the circumstances”. I take your statement that you may wish to defend yourself because you are innocent – good luck on that. The way the laws are structured on photo radar, it is about 99.9% undefendable. So even if you are guilty of the offence, the probabllity of a successful defence is nil and impossible, and a waste of yours and the courts time.

    In response to Mr Cust; I must agree that the funds would be best put forward towards the organizations of driver education, MADD and victims, and all these funds be administrated by these organizations, not the town coffers. This would offer the opportunity for the public to be made more educated on the do’s and don’ts of traffic and would eliminate a lot of people’s sentiments that this is just a cash cow or simply a town tax on driving.

    I hope the town people come out to the town meeting on April 19 to express their concerns.

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