Morinville town council got a glimpse of what townspeople want from a new photo radar enforcement system during a drop-in feedback session last Wednesday night.
All the councillors were on hand at Higher Grounds coffee shop in Morinville during an information-gathering session hosted by Coun. Stephen Dafoe.
A range of ideas got air time, with greater transparency and better location selection being the most common.
Earlier this spring Morinville residents voted in a plebiscite to retain photo enforcement. The town recently put out a request for proposals for a new photo enforcement contractor, which it would like to have in place by fall, said Mayor Lisa Holmes.
Last week’s session was structured so members of the public could drop by and share their ideas for how the town should proceed with photo radar enforcement. Eight residents showed up.
Kerry Shima said he’d like the system to be more transparent regarding its intent.
“If this is a safety initiative then photo radar needs to be operating in locations that support that initiative. However, if it’s being used as a road tax, then it ought to be called a road tax,” he said.
“It’s currently operating in locations where safety doesn’t appear to be an issue.”
As an example, he cited Cardiff Road, where the speed limit drops from 80 kilometres an hour to 50. Photo radar vehicles are a common sight along that stretch, despite the fact that there are no sidewalks, few if any pedestrians, and no schools or parks, he said.
“If it’s a safety initiative, why are they there when there have been no reported safety issues?” Shima said.
Resident Brent Henry was focused on the contract the town drafts to govern speed enforcement. He said the town has to be very specific in outlining what it wants in terms of locations, hours, etc.
“You do not want a contractor to be given the opportunity to broadly interpret what they’re supposed to do. You want to tell them what you want,” he said.
Resident Linda Lyons presented a page-long list of ideas that included a call for roaming photo enforcement sites (including residential areas), more detailed reports and a stipulation that 50 per cent of photo enforcement revenue be used for road improvements and safety initiatives.
Overall, she feels a broader approach would improve safety.
“If you live on a connector road, we have people that just race around,” she said. “There’s a perception that people go too fast.”
Another idea that came forward was publicly posting photo radar locations each week, as is the norm in St. Albert.
Holmes said she was open to that idea.
“I think it’s fantastic. When I drive through St. Albert I know that they’re going to be hiding behind … portable signs. That helps you to predict in your head to watch your speed. I think the people in Morinville can be offered the same opportunity.”
Other ideas included making photo radar vehicles more visible and reducing speed limits in residential areas to 40 km/h.
Dafoe, the official host of the meeting session, said he was impressed that the gathering elicited a variety of ideas despite the relatively low turnout.
“Everybody was listening to everybody,” he said. “I think that gives me hope that we can come up with the right policy, the right program.”