B.C.’s public safety minister is on the defense the day after his government announced plans to install speed cameras at 35 intersections around the province.
Mike Farnworth told reporters at the legislature on Wednesday that the goal of the program is safety, not revenue, and that speeding-ticket revenue currently goes to the municipal governments where they are collected.
“We have said we wanted to sit down with local governments and discuss it on a go-forward basis, with a guarantee that there would be no change in revenue for local government,” he added.
The cameras, most of them in the Lower Mainland, will clock the speed of each vehicle that goes through the intersection, even on a green light, and automatically send out a ticket to the vehicle’s registered owner should it be speeding.
Ian Tootill, co-founder of Safety by Education Not Speed Enforcement BC, which advocates for drivers, said there’s no way around it — the cameras are a reincarnation of the much-hated photo radar enforcement program of the 1990s.
“These are now de facto convictions that are sent in the mail and the onus is now on the owner of the vehicle to somehow prove he or she might not be guilty and people are sometimes not guilty,” said Tootill, emphasizing that the system targets the vehicle owners and not necessarily whoever was speeding.
Farnworth restated his government has no plans to make public the speed threshold that triggers the camera, and neither does any other province.
“But we’ve been really clear. One, these intersections are online. Two, you guys have shown them on TV. Three, there are going to be signs, warning signs, telling you you are entering an intersection that’s got a camera.”
Tootill said withholding the threshold raises the question of the government lowering or raising it in the future.
“Once you get compliance at a certain level and the tickets just start to dribble in and the revenue flow stops, then you’ve got to figure out how to get more money out of it, so you just crank the threshold down or you mess with the timing on the light, which is common in the U.S.”
He believes the best way to discourage bad drivers is to have police officers catch them so that they can stop speeding right away.
“If somebody sends me a ticket in the mail two months later, I don’t remember what I did, it’s impossible for me to fight it.”
- with files from Tom Fletcher
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