The fairness of installing an intersection camera to catch speeding motorists at the bottom of Gaetz Avenue South Hill is being questioned by a Red Deer city councillor.
Coun. Tanya Handley referred to the longstanding speed-on-green camera at 59th Street and 51st Avenue, near the Canadian Tire Gas Bar, during a discussion on automated traffic enforcement at this week’s council meeting.
A provincial policy states that automatic traffic enforcement cameras should not be set up at the bottom of hills, or immediately upon the entry of speed change zones, so Handley asked: couldn’t the Gaetz hill location be seen as to “unreasonably penalize drivers?”
Paul Goranson, general manager of protective services, said the photo radar location can be justified, because it has reduced traffic collisions by 30 per cent.
The provincial policy provides rationale that bottom-of-hill locations can be used if safety is demonstrably improved.
City council approved a small policy change to bring Red Deer’s automated traffic enforcement rules in line with newly revised provincial policies.
But the inserted paragraph — about how interactive cameras and photo radar will not be located to “unreasonably penalize drivers” — was described as too subjective by some councillors.
Coun. Vesna Higham attempted an amendment that would require speed-on-green and red-light cameras to be rotated for equal time at various intersections.
She suggested results be regularly reviewed, and if cameras are left for a longer period at a particular location, this should be justified by collision data.
Higham wanted to provide more public transparency, but her amendment did not pass. Most councillors felt it was too prescriptive.
Although Higham believes the cameras serve a safety purpose, she questioned their high rate of usage.
Cameras are supposed to “augment” the work of regular police officers stopping motorists for traffic infractions, but the figures show the opposite is happening.
Higham said, “Police officers are actually augmenting” the cameras.
She noted that 91 per cent of speeding tickets in the city are connected to automated traffic enforcement, compared to only nine per cent that are handed out manually by officers.
Of all traffic tickets, 76 per cent are dispensed by cameras and 24 per cent by manual enforcement.
Although most city councillors eventually approved the small change to municipal camera policy, Coun. Buck Buchanan did not vote in favour, as a matter of principle.
The retired police officer, like many Albertans, feels photo radar and speed-on-green intersection camera tickets are mostly a cash grab.