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Morinville photo radar review is backwards


  |  Posted: Wednesday, May 21, 2014 06:00 am

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After attending the Morinville town council meeting May 13, I have some concerns with regards to the review schedule presented to council by corporate services director Dave Schaefer.

My biggest concern and one which should concern us all is no formal public consultation until after the enforcement contract is awarded. I would compare this to tendering a bid for a contractor to build a house with no blueprints – you don’t know what you’re going to get.

Awarding a contract to an enforcement agency with no clear plan in place leaves us in the same position we were in before – no real say in how speed is enforced. Unless, of course, the director has already made up his mind and plans to continue as if the plebiscite never happened and that the “review” is only a smokescreen to soothe the community. I hope for the sake of our community that this is not the case.

I have a tendency to believe, unfortunately, that this is the case, after hearing some of the comments Mr. Schaefer has made in the past, and a comment he made during the meeting. One comment I was particularly disturbed by was his statement that there was no input from the public on how the program was to be run, just the will of some of the people to get rid of it.

There is documented proof that many citizens have complained over the past three years as to how the current contractor and the town have been conducting photo enforcement, all falling on deaf ears. The plebiscite was the last resort from concerned citizens, not the first.

A second comment which will forever be burned in my memory is the statement that no matter how the citizens of Morinville voted, the town could still use photo enforcement because the petition stipulated radar and not laser. This is a clear indication that, no matter what the will of the people indicates, there is nothing wrong with the program as it is currently being run and nothing should change, in Mr. Schaefer’s opinion.

As a concerned citizen, and property owner in this town, I would like to submit the following suggestions to our council in the approach to reviewing photo enforcement and awarding the contract.

To be conducted before the awarding of the contract:

1. Conduct a poll questioning the citizens as to how they would like to see photo enforcement conducted. This should have been done before the original contract was awarded.

2. Draft a bylaw that the enforcement contractor must follow when operating within town corporate limits. This bylaw should contain definitions of transition zones, definitions of school zones and types of photo enforcement equipment operators are permitted to use. Creating such a bylaw would show the community that the photo enforcement people have rules to follow while conducting operations and that it is not just a free-for-all.

It has been with great frustration that, when I have been looking for information on what is permitted and not permitted with regards to photo enforcement, all I find are the provincial guidelines and these I have been told “are only guidelines and don’t need to be followed.” Enacting a bylaw such as this would give the citizens a clearer vision as to how the town is protecting them on both sides of the fence.

3. Once the bylaw is drafted, hold a town meeting to sell the bylaw to the people. This will show open transparency and create better trust with the community.

4. Pass the bylaw and open the contract to the bidding process.

Following these four steps would give council greater transparency to the public. This would give people the opportunity to have their concerns addressed before it is too late because of contract obligations which does not allow the type of enforcement the people want.

In closing, I would like to reinforce my thoughts that the current schedule is putting the cart before the horse and is generally keeping the public out of the picture until it is too late for them to have any input as to how we want our community to be policed with photo enforcement.

Richard Price, Morinville


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