Government says it’s putting an end to photo radar being used as a revenue-generating tool

by Morinville News Staff

Photo radar has made a marginal contribution to traffic safety across the province, according to an independent third-party review of photo radar operations in Alberta.

Minister of Transportation Brian Mason announced changes to photo radar operations Thursday he says will enhance transparency, increase oversight and enshrine the principle that photo radar can be used only to improve road safety.

“Our goal is to eliminate photo radar as a tool for revenue generation,” Mason said. “Photo radar operations must contribute to significant traffic safety outcomes, like reducing collisions and saving lives. We are updating the provincial photo radar guidelines to provide the direction and clarity that municipalities and police agencies need in order to focus on safety.”

The independent review shows that photo radar guidelines need to produce better data to demonstrate how photo radar contributes to traffic safety. The guideline changes will:

Improve accountability by clarifying roles and responsibilities for photo radar programs.

Require municipal Traffic Safety Plans to use collision data to ensure photo radar programs are directly tied to safety. The plans will be audited by the provincial government to ensure compliance.

Require police services and/or municipalities to post and update photo radar locations and their rationale on municipal/police websites every month (links will be provided on

Prohibit the use of photo radar in transition zones (i.e. adjacent to speed limit signs where speed limits change).

Prohibit the use of photo radar on high-speed multi-lane roadways, unless there is a documented traffic safety issue.

Require annual reporting and evaluation of how photo radar programs are achieving traffic safety outcomes.

Conventional traffic enforcement, such as police patrolling or scanning traffic with radar, is still allowed in locations where automated enforcement is prohibited. Radar is also still allowed in school zones, playground zones and construction zones.

The government says it will work with municipalities over the coming year to implement guideline changes, allowing enough time for municipalities to adapt. This work will include photo radar site selection, operational restrictions and data collection the government says will allow for improved and ongoing program evaluation.

Morinville’s Director of Protective Services David Schaeffer says he is looking forward to reviewing the Government’s report.

“Morinville is a member Capital Region Intersection Safety Partnership and it is the Community’s goal to have a safe community,” he said. “Based on what was heard from the TV release, Administration feels Morinville is already doing the things the Transport Minister mentioned.”

Scheaffer went on to say the priority of any program should be about safety. [In] Morinville we have seen a significant increase in traffic law compliance since the inception of this program and thankfully we also have seen very low injury accidents over that period,” Schaeffer said. “Photo enforcement isn’t the only way to improve safety, but it has been an effective tool to help make roadway use safer.”

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  1. I need to speak to our local municipality about these changes. Revenue generated by speeders could and have been used effectively in traffic safety initiatives. Where is this money now going to come from considering already strapped municipal budgets?

    • Noreen Radford well, years ago, when I pointed out that this was just a cash grab and had naught to do with safety I was told I was wrong. The other argument was that it funded the Town and was a wondrous thing as it kept taxes low. Seemed like speaking out of both sides of one’s mouth at once, but, whatever, it was kept in place.

      If it’s gone now…well, raise people’s taxes. It’s what they worried about, so let them have their wish. Or, cut programs. Or learn that getting used to picking people’s pockets by unfair, unethical and dubiously legal means is not a way to fund a government.

      The justice system is not and never should have been turned into a profit generator.

  2. Guess we wont be seeing buddy on Cardiff road anymore sitting in the speed transition between 80 to 50. After all cardiff road is probably one of the most dangerous places in the town of morinville.

  3. Wait…I know I’ve had conversations on here with folks who claimed photo radar was all about safety. Now, it seems the Provincial government at least, admits it has marginal safety benefits and was really just a cash cow all along.

    Was it not the position of the Town of Morinville that photo radar was just a safety tool? Which councilors held that stance, I wonder?

    • I should point out here, to my recollection, Stephen Dafoe asked Council for an additional study or more information from the service provider, I can’t remember which. But, it seemed clear, at least to me, that he had concerns about the program. I think that request was granted, but again, not sure about that. I honestly do not know which Councillors voted what way or if any abstained. Not all of those Councillors still hold those positions.

    • Ian Delaney great…and? You make my point, Sir. It is a cash grab to fund various levels of government, it has bugger all to do with safety.

    • Ian Delaney May? Well, that is confident! Were they needed or no? What study was done? Lights were needed at Cardiff and Hwy 2, definitely, but that’s a Provincial responsibility. Why were these lights needed?

      If things are NEEDED, let taxpayers fund them. The administration of justice should not provide a profit to a corporation or a municipality. Any rebuttal to that simple premise?

  4. Too bad. If you speed, you pay. It’s simple. Those who continue to do it were paying an entirely voluntary tax. Location never mattered, the fact that people break the law always has.

    • Rob Ladouceur ummm…no.

      It is clear that the corporate entity engaged by the Town used unethical, illegal and unscrupulous tactics. It is equally clear that certain Town Councillors knew that this was a cash cow and had bugger all to do with safety. But, they turned a blind eye and even now deny the obvious. Now, the chickens have come home to roost and it’s somewhat uncomfortable for them. You included, apparently.

      Justice is not, should not and should never have been for sale.

      But, why turn away a quick buck on a matter of ethics, morals or principles, eh? What do rules REALLY mean when a dollar is yet to be made?

    • That’s a strong accusation, and one that is incorrect.

      The corporate entity was doing things in an incorrect way and so policies were changed to combat that and ensure that safety mattered more than money. But at the end of the day, the way to prevent getting a ticket is not to speed. The same applies for any charge from law enforcement organizations and fines.

      Speed enforcement was so spoken about in town that I find it difficult to believe that most people in town weren’t aware of the program. So if you know it exists, and you speed, it’s likely you’ll eventually get a ticket. Those people did so by choice, and the results were tickets that were used to pay for safety programs and projects to help make the town safer.

      I paid my fair share because I was speeding at times. I don’t blame anybody else, not do I feel uncomfortable. I’m not denying the obvious at all, because it isn’t obvious.

    • Rob Ladouceur Strong? Maybe. Accurate? Only a stick pig squeals.

      The Province has said it a cash cow and has naught to do with safety as stats change less than the margin of error. A former Mayor has called it a cash cow. Yet, you are still an apologist for it. Why?

      Photo radar is an utterly ineffective safety tool and always has been. It is a cash cow and always has been.

      Your own Province denounces any argument you may try to make, Sir. So, what, other than cash, was the rationale, given that the Province and a former Mayor admit, it was all about money?

    • Besides, you yourself admit the corporate entity was doing things “in an incorrect way”. Some may call them “unlawful”, I, as a mere simpleton, will call them “illegal”.

      Who engaged that corporate entity? Who authorized its contract? Who, along with the owner of that entity are responsible for the oversight of it? Could it be the entity/folks that hired that corporate entity? And the folks that renewed, continuously, said contract?

      Weird idea, eh? Were you one of such folks? Is accepting responsibility not a basic principle of leadership?

    • Rob Ladouceur Also, you may want to revisit your original post. You characterize fines as a “tax”. Sure you want to go with that in your lead point, Sparky?

  5. Anyone else thinking that they’re just gonna move it to school zones and town streets until this little study is done to determine if it’s helping safety? And once that’s complete they’ll start putting them in cash generating zones again….something tells me we’ve seen this before

  6. Public plebiscite in Morinville called for PR to be scrapped. It failed and the previous Council, following public direction, did its best to ensure that the program evolved to focus more on safety outcomes. It was a process and changes implemented didn’t always pass the snuff test as quarterly reports were presented to Council, and so more changes were made.

    It’s never been perfect, but PR money was diverted to various safety and public benefit initiatives in Morinville.

    Apparently the Govt of AB believes that PR CAN have positive safety outcomes if utilized properly and according to new, stricter policies. Hope that is the case, otherwise it just needs to go.

    But it does seem like convenient timing to address this particularly contentious and political issue in advance of an election. Not sure it’s enough to save them however, especially if Jason Kenney goes further and calls for it to be eliminated entirely.

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