Photo radar enforcement starting in Cold Lake this spring

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Motorists in Cold Lake could be getting more traffic tickets in the mail as early as May, after Cold Lake City Council decided to move ahead with photo enhanced traffic enforcement.

“We know we have a lot of areas where people are speeding. We have a lot of complaints on the register (in) school zones and all that,” said Mayor Craig Copeland. “Photo radar gives us the opportunity to have a dedicated service to do that so we can free up police and municipal bylaw (officers) into other areas instead of increasing our staffing levels.”

The issue was before council at their Jan. 12 meeting, when council voted unanimously to sign a multi-year agreement with third-party provider Global Traffic Group Ltd. Included in the service will be 40 hours of operational photo enforcement per month within pre-approved zones. Photo radar will be set up to include speed, red light, stop sign, cross walk safety and distracted driver safety.

“There are certain procedures where zones would have to be approved first. As sites go up and down (in ticket numbers), we can choose another zone or just take the zone out if it shows that enforcement is helping,” explained Christine McWillis, general manager of community services.

Photo radar has been in the works for the city for a few months. At the corporate priorities meeting in November 2015, council first directed administration to seek out a company that would provide all of the photo radar services.

The program isn’t new to the city, though. Initial implementation of photo traffic enforcement happened in 2010, using the services of community peace officers and city-owned equipment. The program was eventually stopped and hasn’t been operational within Cold Lake for the past couple of years primarily due to the need for officer training and technological upgrades.

“It makes it easier to send it off to a private company. If you look at what the city does, a lot of the staff we try to farm out to the private sector if we can,” said Copeland.

He added, “We don’t necessarily do everything ourselves, we don’t mind spreading business around the community. Snow removal is a good example; over 50 per cent is done by contractors. We want to keep local businesses going and it’s important for a municipal government to not do everything ourselves.”

With the new program, Global Traffic Group will come into the city and work with staff and the local police to determine which areas of the city the photo radars will be set up in. The police have the authority to decide at which point over the speed limit a ticket will be issued.

In addition to school zones, Copeland said residents can expect to see radars at some point in areas such as the four-way stops on 50 Ave. and on 16 Ave. and Highway 28.

“We’re getting a lot of complaints on Highway 28 in terms of people speeding on the twinned highway and I think we kind of thought that would happen with the 80 kilometre speed zone. That will be a hot ticket item.”

Prior to the full implementation of the photo traffic enforcement, there will be a warning period of 90-days. Revenues generated from tickets will be divided between Global Traffic Group and the City of Cold Lake, with the city utilizing their net revenue for community initiatives.

“There was about $30,000 in revenue created last time, which went into the restricted surplus,” said CAO Kevin Nagoya. “At the next corporate priorities meeting we can decide where council wants that funding to go, whether it’s infrastructure or community safety initiatives or wherever.”

Once the city has officially signed the contract with Global Traffic Services, it will run until Oct. 31, 2018 and is expected to start sometime in May, dependant on the completion date of the mandatory 90-day warning.

Council is expected to discuss the allocation of funds at their next corporate priorities meeting, scheduled for Jan. 19.

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