Local politicians voted last Thursday to ask the B.C. government for authority to bring back photo radar, but only to police school zones.
Delegates at the Union of BC Municipalities convention backed the proposal from Penticton council, after changing the name to “speed cameras” to avoid the stigma of an unpopular province-wide speed enforcement program ended by the B.C. Liberal government in 2001.
Penticton Mayor Garry Litke said the issue was taken on after a girl had her feet run over by a speeding car in a school zone. Speed bumps aren’t appropriate for school zones that are only in effect 20 per cent of the time, and police don’t have enough staff to monitor school zones, Litke said.
The resolution asks for municipalities to have the option of installing speed cameras where speeding is a problem, and ability to impose a “significant fine as a deterrent,” he said.
Thompson Nicola Regional District director Ken Gillis, a lawyer and former truck driver, called photo radar “big brotherism at its very worst,” imposing fines without the ability to contest the ticket in case of a machine malfunction.
Duncan councillor Tom Duncan, a long-time ICBC employee, said “there is no doubt that photo radar cameras reduce the speed where they are deployed, and we have to support this to save lives.”
Nelson councillor Robin Cherbo said communities should improve signs, or use live speed displays before looking to photo radar and fines. He added that photo radar can’t detect impaired drivers who may be more of a hazard even if they aren’t speeding.
Burnaby councillor Nick Volkow, also a truck driver, said speed cameras are a “cash grab” that communities would come to rely on for revenue.
Premier Christy Clark also called photo radar a “cash grab” in the televised leadership debate before the May 14 election. All four party leaders in the debate said they would not bring it back as a province-wide program.
“It does not matter if the wording is photo radar or speed cameras I disagree with this resolution. The issue was brought forward in an attempt to increase safety in school zones an issue which I wholeheartedly agree with,” says Barriere mayor Bill Humphreys.
“However this resolution does not address the issue of safety. It will become simply a cash grab just like photo radar was. That will not keep our children safe on the roads. Driver and pedestrian education are the key to solving the safety problem in school zones.”