The days of Hinton’s speeders getting their pictures taken are soon coming to a full and complete stop, at least for now.
Town council decided that automated traffic enforcement (ATE) operations would terminate effective at midnight on Jan. 31. The move comes after a unanimous vote during council’s Jan. 16 regular council meeting.
The vote directed town administration to provide notice to terminate the existing contract with Global Traffic Group Ltd. after more than 17 years.
During the meeting, Director of Protective Services and Fire Chief Maurice de Beaudrap explained that the existing contract had been given a one-month extension to the end of month in order to provide enough time for town administration and Global to negotiate a satisfactory agreement.
There were four specific restrictions on the agreement, which focused on ensuring that the enforcement vehicle would be highly visible with no effort to hide it. The restrictions also specified that the vehicle should be located more in school zones and pedestrian zones, rather than at the town’s peripheries.
These additional restrictions were more than the contractor could bear, according to de Beaudrap, who said that Global’s position was they would not have a viable business model unless the existing restrictions would be lifted.
In lieu of them being lifted, Global proposed a flat monthly fee of $25,473, the equivalent of nearly $306,000 per year or 25 per cent of the net revenue if the monthly fines exceeded that $25,473.
“Negotiations were stalemated on this item and again administration is recommending in brief that we terminate the existing agreement on Jan. 31, continue discussions with the Town of Edson to provide those ATE services, and that the implementation of the program be conducted at least [on] a revenue-neutral basis,” he said.
Coun. Trevor Haas brought the motion forward, expressing his appreciation that administration approached the contractor with the proposed changes and that it was unfortunate that an agreement couldn’t be made.
“I think it just makes sense at this time to cease that contract and regroup,” Haas said. “It gives us an opportunity to discuss the future possibilities.”
Coun. Ryan Maguhn said he still believes that photo radar has a place but only when it is applied appropriately and effectively in ensuring the public’s safety. His major issue was how ATE vehicles were made inconspicuous to traffic.
“Over the years, this has been a bit of a thorn in my paw,” he said.
“Our contractors should be spending more time in school zones, less time on the edges of town. If the contractor could have delivered on that, that would have been great for that.
“To come back and just price themselves out in my opinion, to say, ‘Oh well, it’ll cost you $25,000 bucks a month for this to be lucrative’, no thanks. Thanks for your time, but in this case, if you can’t provide these safety components, then there’s other ways to do it.”
Council’s administrative priority is to ensure safety in the community, said Coun. Albert Ostashek, and that extends to any of its partnerships with for-profit businesses such as Global.
“I can’t fault the contractor: they’re a business. They’re in business to make money. I think that the issue lies though in that when you try to combine those two things, they’re not necessarily fully compatible. It makes it really challenging from an administrative perspective, from council’s perspective to try and push the safety aspect of it when there’s more lucrative things that the provider could do.”
Coun. Stuart Taylor said he never was much of a fan of photo radar. He referred to information from the contractor that indicated how approximately 80 per cent of the tickets issued came from the edges of Hinton where motorists frequently accelerate up to highway speeds. This led him to lose any support for the practice as a tool.
“I need to see evidence that photo radar offers safety benefits and not just monetary ones,” he said, noting his own review of university research that it has little or no effect on traffic safety.
Coun. Ostashek also brought forward a motion to ensure that administration would continue discussions with the Town of Edson to provide ATE services on a revenue-neutral basis. That vote was carried with only Coun. Taylor opposed.
A report is expected to be brought to a future committee of the whole meeting before the end of September.
By Scott Hayes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Original Published on Jan 26, 2024 at 16:00