Photo radar may not have a huge impact on the number of speeders and collisions, but the province argues it is still very worthwhile.
Joe Hargrave, the provincial cabinet minister responsible for SGI, said the photo radar program is not a cash grab.
“It’s a way to reduce speeds, reduce injuries, reduce accidents at all these places … If it was cash grab they’d be on every corner, they’d be all over the place. We haven’t done that and it’s not our intent to do that.”
The province announced Monday the photo radar program will be made permanent and more cameras could be added down the line.
A report released at the same time showed total collisions did decrease in school zones over the two years of the pilot project, but increased in the other high-speed areas where cameras were placed.
The numbers also showed speeding at four of the five high-speed locations went down by less than 0.25 per cent between March 2015 and March 2017.
The number of speeders in school zones stayed about the same in Moose Jaw over the duration of the pilot project. Regina’s numbers were down by 1.13 per cent and Saskatoon’s actually went up by 1.42 per cent.
When asked about the small decrease in speeders, Hargrave said it still works out to a large number tickets.
The minister maintained the program is worthwhile.
“I think it sends a signal, and it continues to send a signal, that we are working on highway safety. Because at the end of the day it’s about safety on the streets, safety on the highways.”
Meanwhile, the province has also announced changes to the revenue stream from the photo radar program. While 25 per cent of all ticket revenue will continue to be put into the general revenue fund, the way the rest of that money breaks down is changing.
Starting on Jan. 1, 2019, 75 per cent of all ticket revenue from photo radar cameras located on highways will be dedicated to the Provincial Traffic Safety Fund to be spent on safety initiatives.
For photo radar cameras in cities and towns, half of the 75 per cent will go back to the local municipality where the camera is located, with the rest being put into the new provincial traffic safety fund.
Hargrave said the formula would give smaller communities and rural municipalities access to more money for traffic safety initiatives. He pointed to schools in small communities which have highways running right past them as examples of where traffic safety could be improved with cash from the program.
“I don’t want to see any child get hurt, I don’t want to see any adult get hurt. That’s why I think it’s so important to spread this around to the rest of the province and to make it so that other municipalities, other communities can have safe and secure roads in their communities as well,” Hargrave said.
Mayor says cities will lose out on photo radar revenue
Regina Mayor Michael Fougere is calling out the province for taking a bigger share of photo radar revenue away from urban municipalities.
Fougere described the 25 per cent of the ticket revenue that goes into the general revenue fund for the province as a ‘tax grab.’
He said it would perhaps be less objectionable if all the money the province was taking was directed to traffic safety.
“If it goes to safety programs it’s not a cash grab, but when it goes to general revenue it’s another story.”
Now the remaining portion of the revenue from all photo radar cameras in cities will be split evenly between the local municipality and the provincial traffic safety fund. Fougere argued all the money collected from tickets should stay in the city to be dedicated to local safety initiatives, such as the upcoming review of school zone safety.
“When you have an infraction – a ticket – it goes to wherever you had the infraction, in this case, Regina. And we’re just losing that revenue to do some very important programs,” Fougere
While he was aware the province was considering this change, Fougere said the announcement was made by the province out of the blue without enough consultation.
The province will be forming a new committee to decide where to add more photo radar cameras in areas considered to be high-risk.
The committee will include representatives from government, SGI, RCMP, municipal police forces. The Saskatchewan Association of Urban Municipalities (SUMA), Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities (SARM) and the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) will also have seats on the panel. This body will also oversee where the money from the new Provincial Traffic Safety Fund will go.