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Photo radar has limited impact, not needed

Airdrie letters_text

RE: “Province stalls City’s intersection improvements,” article, Feb. 20

Dear Editor,

It has recently come to my attention that Airdrie City council is voicing its objection to the provincial freeze on additional photo radar units in the province of Alberta, as it wants to implement such a system.

In my opinion, photo radar units have very limited effect on improving traffic safety and are more of a revenue-generation tool. I find the City of Airdrie is disrespecting its citizens by not openly and broadly consulting us on this issue before sending a letter to the Solicitor General's office or planning the radar implementation.

Last year, the City and Airdrie RCMP each undertook citizen feedback initiatives regarding policing. Neither of those surveys asked for input on Automated Traffic Enforcement (ATE) devices. Furthermore, at a Feb. 19 town hall meeting held specifically on Airdrie policing models, the topic of photo radar was only broached by me (as opposed), otherwise there was no conversation on it by the RCMP commander, law enforcement manager or members of the Airdrie Municipal Policing Advisory Board.

Seeing as Airdrie does not have ATE at this time, I feel the City must have a binding referendum on the subject to coincide with next year's municipal elections. As far as I know, the topic of photo radar was not brought up in the previous municipal elections and this is the first I am hearing of Airdrie trying to force this type of device on to its residents.

Airdronians should not be forced into a prolonged conflict with its council and mayor like the citizens of Drayton Valley had to endure until they were able to get a plebiscite to remove it.

The provincially issued "guideline" document for law enforcement to follow with the use of ATE is very weak in the eyes of the court. When challenging photo radar tickets in the past, the traffic court would not accept the document as admissible; therefore police services are not compelled by law to follow it. If the province chooses to keep allowing ATE, I believe the rules regarding its use should be a stand-alone regulation administered under the Police Act or the Highway Traffic Act.

To be completely candid, when I lived in Medicine Hat six years ago, I received many photo-radar tickets and it did not compel me to slow down or change my driving habits. I felt it was no more than a "sin tax," similar to buying tobacco or alcohol. When I returned to Airdrie, my driving habits changed as result of the City extensively using police and bylaw officers to enforce traffic safety. The penalty of demerits and potentially losing my driving privileges act as a major deterrent. So far, I have not received one traffic violation in Airdrie – and I live close to a playground and school zone.

Kris Liivam


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