Petition Calls For End To Edmonton Photo Radar

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PHOTO RADAR
Motorists drive by a radar part of an average speed measuring system, on June 23, 2014 near Englos, northern France. This system operates as sets of two or more cameras installed along a fixed route which can calculate the average speed of a vehicle between these sites. AFP PHOTO PHILIPPE HUGUEN (Photo credit should read PHILIPPE HUGUEN/AFP/Getty Images) | PHILIPPE HUGUEN via Getty Images
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If you find yourself increasingly fed up with Edmonton's photo radar program, you're not alone.

An online petition is calling on the city to "stop replacing officers with cameras," and to put the cost overruns associated with the program into other initiatives, instead.

The petition, started by Patrick Dyas on change.org, has collected more than 1,300 signatures.

His call to action reads:

"The photo radar program in the City of Edmonton has to come to an end. In 2007, the city councillors voted to have the program run in-house, as opposed to by a private company. The operation was intended to cost $6.7 million over the course of 5 years. City auditor David Wiun reported that the actual amount spent was $53.6 million, of our taxpayer dollars! None of which has been accounted for to the public. That money could've been spent on what our City truly needs, such as education, improvements to our roadways, health care, etc. I think that what the City needs is to stop using its citizens as a cash grab, and to stop replacing police officers with cameras. With your help, I think we have a chance to change this type of enforcement. To stop wasting our tax money, and put the money towards things that will change our city for the better."

Earlier this month, city administration reported a $47 million cost overun, after the city's 2007 decision to take over the photo radar cameras from a private company.

In the original business plan, city administration estimated an operational cost of $6.7 million from 2008 to 2012. Instead, the costs climbed to $53.4 million.

Additionally, 1,173,000 photo radar tickets were issued — more than 420,000 than originally estimated in that time.

Council grilled administration about what went wrong and how the city so massively underestimated the costs of switching from a private contractor.

"We've all turned around and seen our speeding tickets get a little tighter. The tolerance has seen it go from under 10 kilometres or five kilometres to now we're getting speeding tickets from two to five kilometres — I don't remember that ever happening before," councillor Mike Nickel told the Edmonton Sun earlier this month.

Nickel said the public is likely to conclude that the spike in ticket numbers is to help pay off the underestimated operational costs.

And just like Nickel predicted, supporters of Dyas' petition say the photo radar program has become less about safety and more about raking in the dough.

"Honestly, I believe that photo radar is just a cash grab for the city. While being a cash grab, it frustrates the motorists that get a ticket by going a mere 5 or 6 [kilometres] over the limit which is absolutely ridiculous," wrote Konrad Houda.

Some argued that the program is actually making Edmonton roads less safe.

"It's a waste of money, as stated. It's also distracting and dangerous when people are looking at the side of the road for photo radar vehicles or slamming on their breaks nearly causing a collision," wrote Jason Staroszik.

Do you think Edmonton's photo radar program needs an overhaul? What changes would you like to see put in place? Let us know in the comments below.

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