Manitoba suspends photo radar in construction zones pending review
Last Updated: Thursday, May 7, 2009 | 9:01 AM CT
The Manitoba government has decided to reconsider issuing photo radar tickets issued in construction zones, and whether it should refund fines already paid.
'I have to admit it appears to the public that it looks more like a fine and cash issue than safety one.'— Dave Chomiak, Manitoba attorney generalAttorney General Dave Chomiak said during question period in the Manitoba legislature on Wednesday there was a huge leap in the amount of speeding tickets issued in construction zones last year, compared to 2007. The number jumped from 3,000 to 60,000.
"We're going to sit down with the city and look at the issue of retroactivity. It is very clear, Mr. Speaker, that the credibility of photo radar and use by the city is on the line," Chomiak said. "I have to admit it appears to the public that it looks more like a fine and cash issue than safety one."
'To go from 3,000 to 60,000, I think, proves our point that this is simply not only just a cash grab, but there's no way that the vast majority of Manitobans were purposely breaking the law driving through those construction zones.'—Kelvin Goertzen, Manitoba Conservative justice criticPhoto radar is being removed from construction zones while the province and City of Winnipeg work to come up with another solution for safety there.
"We've asked the city today to stop, to stop using photo radar [in those zones]," said Chomiak.
Manitoba Conservative justice critic Kelvin Goertzen said he couldn't believe how high the numbers were when Chomiak announced them.
"Well, it's shocking. I actually had to turn to my colleague in the legislature and ask if I'd heard that correctly," he said. "To go from 3,000 to 60,000, I think, proves our point that this is simply not only just a cash grab, but there's no way that the vast majority of Manitobans were purposely breaking the law driving through those construction zones."
Under provincial law, the temporary speed limit in construction zones is 60 kilometres per hour. A sign declaring the temporary speed limit must be set up at the start of a construction zone as well as a notification of the return to the regular limit at the end.
Earlier this week, the province announced it was dropping about 860 outstanding tickets after learning of improper sign placement in construction zones where photo radar was being used.
A sign telling drivers of the lower speed had only been placed at the beginning of the construction zones.
However, Chomiak said at the time that people who already pleaded guilty and paid their fines wouldn't be getting a refund. Now, Chomiak is saying the government will sit down with the city to determine if and how refunds can be issued.
Tickets dismissed in court
Also up for review are tickets issued in construction zones when workers were not present. Earlier this year, provincial court judge Norm Sundstrom dismissed nine photo radar tickets issued in such cases.
Although the drivers had exceeded the 60 km/h limit, they were not going faster than the regular 80 km/h speed limit for that particular roadway. With no workers present, the regular speed limit should apply, Sundstrom ruled.
Manitoba's attorney general's office said it disagreed with that ruling and would continue to prosecute those tickets. On Wednesday, Chomiak said everything is being reconsidered.
Goertzen thinks the government's change of heart is due to public pressure and he is encouraging people to keep emailing and phoning their local politicians and the attorney general.