A Calgary Police Service photo radar truck monitors traffic heading west on Memorial Drive N.W. near 14th Street on Thursday, February 21, 2019. The province announced it will require police forces to prove that photo radar is improving safety and not simply being used as a revenue generator.
Gavin Young / Postmedia
Photo radar is about safety, not revenue generation, a Calgary deputy police chief said Saturday after provincial officials said some municipalities are using the tool as a cash cow.“The fines around any traffic infraction (are) really based on deterrence,” deputy chief Ray Robitaille said.“It’s not revenue generation in terms of trying to create a profit. That does go back into revenue streams to help support enforcement efforts, but it’s never designed to generate a profit.”Robitaille said the primary goal that police are looking at with photo radar and other traffic fines is based on public safety and reducing collisions and injuries. He added the police service is taking “a very close look” at a provincial study released this week.“That’s something that we’re going to digest and certainly look at being compliant,” he said.The provincial government released a third-party review of photo radar operations in Alberta Thursday that found photo radar has “a marginal contribution” to traffic safety, with automated traffic enforcement directly linked to a 1.4 per cent reduction in collisions and a 5.3 per cent reduction in the proportion of fatal collisions.“Alberta is a leader in the use of ATE in terms of the breadth of use across municipalities of all sizes, the variety of device types used, and the intensity of use in terms of devices per capita,” the report authored by MNP LLP stated.“However, despite this high level of use, collision rates in Alberta have decreased at similar levels to other jurisdictions. Given the high level of ATE use in Alberta municipalities, it is reasonable to question why ATE use has not translated into higher levels of collision reduction, and what improvements could be made to Alberta’s ATE program to maximize traffic safety outcomes.”Transportation Minister Brian Mason said Thursday the province is responding to the review by updating photo radar guidelines to “provide the direction and clarity that municipalities and police agencies need in order to focus on safety.”“It is not being optimized to improve safety outcomes on our highways and our roads,” Mason said following the release of the report.Changes that will be implemented include a ban on photo radar in transition zones and on high-speed multi-lane corridors, unless there is a documented traffic safety issue. Municipalities will also be required to post all upcoming photo radar locations.The Alberta Urban Municipalities Associated said Friday that it welcomes the provincial government’s offer of partnership, but that for the collaboration to work, the province needs to “stop the finger-pointing.”“Our municipalities are proud to have taken the lead in reducing traffic fatalities by more than five per cent, which can be directly attributed to effective and diligent photo radar practices,” Barry Morishita, Alberta Urban Municipalities President, said in a news release.In 2016-2017, automated transportation enforcement programs in Alberta generated $220 million, which was split between the Victims of Crime Fund, which received $26 million, municipal revenues, at $130 million, and provincial revenues, at $64 million.Calgary received $38 million that year, while Edmonton earned $50.8 million.Mason said the province will work with municipalities to implement guideline changes over the next email@example.com