Photo radar on the way to Canmore
• Taxpayers will shoulder start-up costs of warning ticket period
By Dave Husdal and Tanya Foubert
Wednesday August 16, 2006
Canmore Leader — Photo radar is coming to Canmore in 2006.
Following a closed-to-the-public session Tuesday night, town council voted unanimously to approve a photo radar agreement with Global Traffic Services that will see the company start sending tickets -- initially warning tickets, followed by the real thing -- to speeding motorists later this year.
The cost of the warning tickets will be carried by the taxpayer through the town’s general capital reserve because no money was budgeted to pay for a revenue-free implementation period in the town’s 2006 operating budget.
The lengthy motion that was approved by council to accept the contract with Global Traffic Services specifies: “that in 2006 any costs associated with the contract be paid from the general capital reserve, and that any revenues resulting from photo radar tickets in 2006 and 2007 are firstly paid back into the general capital reserve so that the financial impact on this reserve is zero.”
It further specifies that: “any surplus of fine revenues over contract costs are directed annually into a dedicated photo radar reserve account, and that council provide direction to administration regarding a policy that determines how funds in the photo radar reserve are to be used.”
The reserve policy will be brought back to council before the end of October 2006.
Global Traffic pitched its services to council as something that wouldn’t come with a cost to taxpayers when it made a presentation on the subject in late 2005.
No copy of the contract was made available to the Leader, but it’s understood the town is looking at a service fee of about $10 per warning ticket when Global starts sending the tickets to speeding motorists.
The company has been gearing up for business in Canmore, having already advertised for staff here.
Coun. John Borrowman, who earlier opposed a motion directing administration to negotiate for services with Global Traffic, said he was convinced to support the contract and implementation of photo radar by Mayor Ron Casey’s argument that only speeding motorists will be affected by it.
He said his initial opposition centred around using someone other than police officers to enforce laws.
Under the contract, Global’s staff will take direction from Mounties, and that will make them a policing tool for the RCMP, Borrowman said.
“We’re talking about reducing speeding and increasing safety,” he said in an interview late Tuesday night.
He also said photo radar would be implemented after a publicity campaign announcing its presence.
That’s something the company’s president, David Steer, promised the Leader last week in the event his company was hired by the town.
“The process during the entire startup would be a 90-day process where we would be advertising in the local media for 90 days, so once a week for 90 days just letting all the local folks know that this is coming to town,” Steer said.
“Thirty days prior to issuance of that first ticket we would starting a warning period and in that scenario we would be out there doing full operations, so the number of hours per week that they have contracted with us we would utilize the equipment and be capturing violators. During that warning period the violators will simply receive a warning letter in the mail with no ticket attached,” Steer said.
Steer declined to talk about specifics in the contract in terms of fees last week.
“It’s all in the agreement and it’s in front of council and I don’t think it would be fair to comment on that right now,” he said.
He said Global has talked with RCMP Staff Sgt. Shannon Johnson “in terms of areas that are an issue in terms of violators and speeding issues.”
Senior manager of finance Gary Buxton said traffic counters that detect the speed of vehicles passing over them have recorded vehicle speeds more than twice the legal limit on roads in town.
An example is a vehicle travelling over 140 kilometres per hour on Three Sisters Drive near Carey Drive, Buxton said.
He said one traffic counter found about 95 per cent of vehicles passing over it to be speeding.