Intersection cameras to be aimed at speeders

Speeders at intersections will now be targeted by red-light cameras

The all-seeing eyes of intersection cameras will be focused on speeders later this year.

City council approved the “speed-on-green technology,” which will allow the existing four intersection cameras upgraded to catch speeders on green, amber and red lights.

Already in use in many Alberta cities, the cameras have been credited with slowing drivers down and boosting safety.

Not all of council, including Mayor Tara Veer, favoured rolling out the new technology. Councillors Buck Buchanan and Dianne Wyntjes also voted against.

Veer wanted to see the cameras reviewed as part of a traffic safety discussion later this year that included other initiatives, such as the three photo radar vans, the last of which council added in 2014.

The speed-on-green cameras are expected to generate about $350,000 this year, against $100,000 in costs. A public education campaign will run for three months before the cameras start operating. A one-month grace period will follow where tickets will be sent out but speeders won’t be fined.

Coun. Buck Buchanan said many people see electronic ticketing as a revenue generator rather than a safety measure.

“We’ve heard it’s a cash cow so here we go again.”

Buchanan floated the idea of not charging anyone a fine for a year but didn’t make that a formal motion because that would have meant boosting taxes to make up for $250,000 in anticipated lost revenue.

Coun. Tanya Handley was concerned about a test that detected 400 intersection speeders in five days.

“That’s alarming to me,” said Handley. “That enough for me to get on board with this.”

Earlier in the evening, council voted unanimously to ditch a green energy initiative to save tax dollars.

By dropping the purchase of green energy certificates — which were designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by promoting renewable energy — council saved $56,000 in tax dollars. Another $42,000 will be saved by the city’s utilities department.

Coun. Handley, who proposed the cut, said green certificates no longer make sense in the province’s new carbon tax environment. They amount to the city paying twice for greenhouse gas initiatives and council was told the certificates offer no “tangible benefits” to the city.

Council heard green energy certificate costs will not be offset by the carbon tax, which is expected to cost the city $567,000 over the next two years.

“They do not do anything but make us feel better, is what I’m hearing,” said Handley. “I don’t think we need to pay a premium to send an environmental message.”

Coun. Lynne Mulder said the city was as committed as ever to reducing its environmental impact, but the green energy certificate model was no longer the best way to go.

Dropping green certificate power reduced the projected tax rate increase to 2.10 from 2.14.

In other budget discussions:

l $235,000 was saved by not running 10:45 p.m. buses, an initiative re-introduced last September after a six-year absence. They were drawing only five riders on average over 10 routes.

The 10:45 p.m. buses will run until the end of August when the service will be discontinued. Riders will still have the option of taking 10:15 and 11:15 p.m. buses.

Keeping the buses running would have added 0.2 per cent to the tax rate.

pcowley@bprda.wpengine.com

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