Alberta Implements Changes to Photo Radar Rules, Focusing on Traffic Safety Over Revenue Generation

by Staff

In what it says is a response to growing frustration among Albertans regarding the purpose and use of photo radar, the Alberta government has announced significant changes to photo radar rules aimed at prioritizing traffic safety over revenue generation. The move comes after a pause on new photo radar equipment and locations was implemented on December 1, 2019, to address public concerns.

As a first step, the government will ban photo radar on ring roads in Calgary and Edmonton starting December 1, 2023. Simultaneously, a year-long consultation process will be initiated with municipalities and law enforcement to eliminate all “fishing hole” locations across the province, ensuring that photo radar is solely used to enhance traffic safety.

Devin Dreeshen, the Minister of Transportation and Economic Corridors, emphasized the importance of these changes, stating, “Alberta has the highest usage of photo radar in Canada, and these changes will finally eliminate the cash cow that affects so many Albertans. Photo radar must only be used to improve traffic safety, and with these changes, municipalities will no longer be able to issue thousands of speeding tickets simply to generate revenue.”

The cap on new photo radar equipment, programs, or locations will remain in place until the completion of the one-year consultation with municipalities on December 1, 2024. Edmonton and Calgary will have the option to redeploy photo radar units previously used on the ring roads to areas within their cities where they can have a significant safety impact, such as school zones, playgrounds, and construction areas.

Andre Chabot, Ward 10 councillor in the City of Calgary, expressed satisfaction with the change, stating, “I am very pleased to see this change to allow our police force to redeploy photo radar from Stoney Trail into high-risk areas in our communities such as school zones, construction zones, and playground zones due to changing traffic patterns.”

Both cities, with a combined total of 30 ring road photo radar sites, will be able to select high-risk areas for the redeployment of these sites, further contributing to enhanced traffic safety.

Reflecting on the shift, Karen Principe, Ward tastawiyiniwak councillor in the City of Edmonton, highlighted the importance of the tool for safety, saying, “Photo radar is about keeping people safe, not money. It is one tool the City of Edmonton uses to protect people on the roads.”

The move is seen by the province as a positive step toward a more focused and safety-oriented use of Automated Traffic Enforcement.

Jeff Acker, mayor of the City of Spruce Grove, expressed his satisfaction, saying, “I am pleased to see this change will focus on using Automated Traffic Enforcement as a tool in the toolbox to improve traffic safety and driver behaviour.”

The changes are expected to have a positive impact on traffic safety across the province, as emphasized by Kara Westerlund, vice-president of Rural Municipalities of Alberta, who stated, “I am happy to see this important change to ensure that photo radar is focused on driver safety rather than revenue generation. This one-year consultation with municipalities will support Albertans by clearly identifying where the need for traffic safety improvements is most necessary in our communities.”

In terms of revenue, photo radar generated $171 million in the 2022-2023 fiscal year, with 40 percent going to the province and 60 percent to municipalities. These changes reflect a commitment to a more balanced and safety-focused approach to traffic enforcement in Alberta.

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