Report recommends extending photo radar program for 7 more years; councillor opposes plan, pushes for more officers
A report at city hall in Winnipeg is calling on councillors to keep in place a photo radar program for another seven years. It says the safety and cost benefits of the system are proven, but not everyone agrees with the report’s findings.
“I’m not supportive of the report going forward,” said Coun. Scott Fielding (St. James – Brooklands). Fielding chairs the committee in charge of the photo radar program.
He wants to get rid of the cameras and replace them with more police officers.
The report presented to city hall, meanwhile, recommends renewing the current photo radar contract in Winnipeg until May 2020 at a cost of $21 million. That would cover 33 photo radar cameras, along with 10 mobile vans set up near schools and playgrounds.
Fielding said he’d rather see that $21 million used to add 57 new cops to deal with traffic enforcement and other crimes.
“So you might be able to catch criminals (and take) drunk drivers off the street as well. Let’s say there is a bank robbery half way down the street – you’d be able to augment officers that are there,” said Fielding.
Coun. Harvey Smith is on the same committee that Fielding chairs. Smith said he will vote to keep the photo radar.
“If people are breaking the law, they should pay the consequences,” said Smith.
The report to city hall said T-bone collisions that cause serious accidents are down at camera intersections, with the report also suggesting 81 per cent of Winnipeggers favour an extension of the program.
“It does reduce accidents and that’s beneficial and the public basically supports them,” said Smith.
But Fielding said the wrong question was posed to Winnipeggers about photo radar.
“If you put out a question that said (do you support) photo radar or do you support 57 new officers on the street to do the same traffic enforcement, I think the answers would be dramatically different,” said Fielding.
Some Winnipeggers who CTV Winnipeg spoke to on Thursday said they’d rather see an increased police presence.
“Because cops are not only going to help with speeding,” said Diana Blanchette, a Winnipegger who previously received a photo radar ticket.
The report said it costs more to add traffic police because when drivers fight tickets, the officers must spend a lot of time in court, resulting in more overtime costs.
The report estimates the photo radar program will generate $68 million in revenue over the duration of the contract to 2020.
The extension of the photo radar program still needs approval from full council.
Coun. Fielding admits he thinks it will get the green light at council, despite his opposition.
The issue is slated to go before full council for a vote in December.