Photo radar program ends in Fort McMurray

The bright yellow photo radar truck is a thing of the past.

Article content

The mobile photo radar program in Fort McMurray is no more. Council voted in 2022 to end photo radar, which the municipality calls Automated Traffic Enforcement, once the municipality’s contract for the service ended at the end of 2023.

Advertisement 2

Article content

Mayor Sandy Bowman argued the program has failed to stop speeding in Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo. Instead, the municipality should consider strategies other communities are pursuing as alternatives to improve traffic and road safety.

Article content

“If the program worked we would have no one speeding and no tickets, because people would stop speeding when they got a ticket,” he said at the time. “I think we can find a better program to use the funds that’s allocated for this towards a different program that would be more focused on safety.”

Council has approved funding for six new RCMP officers and four bylaw officers. Municipal spokesperson Greg Bennett says Mounties and bylaw officers are increasing patrols and enforcement in areas with schools, playgrounds and heavy traffic.

Advertisement 3

Article content

Bennett said photo radar generated about $1.8 million in fines in 2022. After expenses, more than $880,000 was transferred to reserves to fund community grants. The municipality is still counting how much revenue the program brought in for 2023. But as of the end of 2023, there is more than $940,000 in the same reserve fund.

The end of this program has been accounted for in the 2024 municipal budget. The equipment used in the photo radar program belonged to Global Traffic Group, the contractor hired by the RMWB.

The Alberta government is cracking down on how municipalities use photo radar, although Bowman’s motion was not ordered by the province.

Beginning in April 2022, municipalities had to justify photo radar locations. Unless it’s a construction or playground area, municipalities cannot put them in speed transition areas or on sections marked below 50 km/h. A freeze on adding new intersection-mounted speeding cameras also started in Dec. 2019.

Advertisement 4

Article content

The Alberta government has started a one-year review with 26 municipalities on possibly removing photo radar at 2,387 camera sites that the province believes are used only for revenue. The province has taken down photo radar on Calgary’s 101-kilometre long Stoney Trail or on Edmonton’s 78-km Anthony Henday Drive.

“When you have certain beautiful highways built and engineered very well and you’re seeing low accident data and yet hundreds of thousands of dollars of ticket revenue, that in most peoples’ minds is a fishing hole,” said Minister of Transportation and Economic Corridors Devin Dreeshen in November.

“These sites are focused on revenue rather than traffic safety so this will end in the province of Alberta.”

Get the news and events of Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo in your inbox every Friday morning by signing up for our newsletter.

[email protected]

Article content