Questions on Morinville photo radar
About 80 come to open house on contentious bylaw
By: Kevin Ma
| Posted: Wednesday, Apr 02, 2014 06:00 am
There was no shortage of opinions last week as town residents came out in droves to an open house about the upcoming vote on photo enforcement.
About 80 residents came to Morinville’s Community Cultural Centre last March 26 for an open house on Bylaw 1/2014, the proposed ban on photo radar and red light camera technology.
Initiated by a public petition, this law is set to go to a plebiscite on April 14. If a majority of voters vote in favour of it, it will pass, meaning the town will no longer be able to use radar-linked cameras or red-light cameras to enforce traffic laws in town. (Laser-linked cameras will still be allowed.)
Last week’s open house was meant to give residents a chance to ask questions and voice opinions to councillors and town staff about the bylaw and traffic safety.
Corporate operations manager David Schaefer spent most of the open house mobbed by people with questions.
He said he was happy with how the open house turned out, and thought that residents walked away more confident about how the town’s photo enforcement program worked.
“Some people thought (photo enforcement staff) were allowed to work anywhere,” he said as an example – instead, photo enforcement only works in specific zones authorized by the town, RCMP and Traffic and Pedestrian Safety Advisory Committee. Others didn’t know how the town used its fine revenue (it’s five per cent for traffic safety with the rest used to pay off the community cultural centre loan).
“That’s the thing that impressed me,” Schaefer said. “People are going, ‘Oh, that makes sense. That’s not what I was told.’”
Town residents had a broad mix of views on photo enforcement.
Don Robichaud said he wasn’t opposed to photo enforcement itself – just the idea of a private company doing it.
“They’re in the business to make a profit,” he said, which gives them an incentive to just patrol the spots where they’ll make the most tickets.
Robichaud wanted the town to hire more people to do full-on traffic stops instead of photo enforcement. “Get a cop out there, with a radar gun, give (drivers) a ticket and demerits.”
Fellow resident Ray Belanger supported photo enforcement as a way to reduce speeding in town, especially on 100 Ave. downtown.
“People are trying to cross (the road) and when they do cross the traffic is just zooming by without stopping,” Belanger said. He had personally been struck by a car while crossing at 100 Ave. and 100 St., the town’s only signalized intersection.
“I’m hoping they’ll lower the speed limit for the safety of the residents.”
Resident Wayne Young also wanted to see more traffic stops than photo enforcement, as a uniformed officer could impose tougher penalties on drivers. “I would rather see additional policemen on the streets.”
He also called for traffic calming measures such as roundabouts. “It forces people to slow down.”
Nicole B. said she was reconsidering her stance on photo enforcement following last week’s open house. “Before I came here, I wanted it out,” she said, but now she wasn’t so sure. “I don’t want to see my taxes increase because it’s been booted out.”
Nicole, who did not want to give her last name, said she was particularly concerned about speeding on 100 Ave. “I will avoid crossing the street on the main drag. If I have to go across (that) street, I will literally get in my car, drive across the street, park and get back out.”
Regardless of the outcome of the bylaw, Schafer said town council would still have to review its traffic safety program and photo enforcement later this year. “Does it include any kind of automation?”
Town residents will have a chance next week for an early vote on the bylaw.
The first of two advance polls on the photo radar bylaw will be held this April 9 from 4 to 8 p.m. at the community cultural centre, said town returning officer Jennifer Maskoske. (Note that a previous Gazette article erroneously reported this poll as opening at 10 a.m.)
Town residents will be asked to vote “yes” or “no” on passing the bylaw, Maskoske said. A “yes” vote will mean you want photo radar and red light camera technology banned in town. A “no” means you do not want them banned. Voters will indicate their choice by marking an X in the appropriate box.
Residents must be Canadian citizens who are 18 or older and who have lived in Alberta for the last six months and in Morinville on the day of the vote in order to cast a vote, Maskoske said. They’ll also need one form of ID with their name, address and preferably photo on it – this typically means your driver’s license or utility bill.
If you can’t make the first advance poll, there will be a second one held at the Rendezvous Centre on April 12 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., followed by the actual vote on April 14 at the community cultural centre. Mail-in ballots are also available on request.
Visit morinville.ca/government/departments/corporate-operations for details.