Automated traffic enforcement, better known as ‘photo radar,’ has been controversial for as long as Slave Lake’s town council has been talking about it.
It still is, and the opposition on council seems to be growing. However, its supporters still have the majority.
At its June 6 meeting, council discussed the merits of renewing the contract of the service provider. The most recent contract with Global Traffic Services is up at the end of this month and council needed to decide whether to renew it or not, for how long and various related matters.
Global was proposing a three-year renewal of the contract, with a fair-sized adjustment in how much each party gets of the ticket revenue. Previously it was 37.1 per cent to Global and 22.9 per cent to the town, with the province getting its 40 per cent. This time the proposal is 48.7 per cent to Global and 11.3 per cent to the town.
Alex Pavcek, the regional fire chief, made the presentation. It had an unusually large number of options for council to consider – five in all. One was to give GTE the three-year extension; another was to not renew at all. Two were versions of an alternative involving the hiring of a third town peace officer, whose job would be traffic enforcement.
However, council settled on a new one-year contract for automated traffic enforcement services.
The one-year extension passed by a 4 – 3 vote, with mayor Ward and councillors Gramlich and Hughes opposed. They seem to lean towards the ‘cash cow’ interpretation of the program, rather than it being principally about improving safety. The main proponents of the safety argument were councillors Brandle and Ferguson. As Ferguson pointed out in his remarks, the statistics quite plainly show the enforcement program has resulted in more people obeying speed limits, as well as inducing better behaviour at intersections.
Council also resolved to take a close look, at budget time, at the numbers involved in hiring another peace officer.