Photo radar com­ing to school zones

New On­tario bill would also add more red-light cam­eras to make in­ter­sec­tions safer

Toronto Star - - CANADA - ROBERT BENZIE QUEEN’S PARK BUREAU CHIEF

Photo radar is speed­ing back to On­tario.

Af­ter a for­mal re­quest from Toronto Mayor John Tory, Premier Kath­leen Wynne an­nounced new leg­is­la­tion em­pow­er­ing mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties to in­stall safety cam­eras near schools to curb speed­ing and pro­tect pedes­tri­ans and cy­clists.

“We have seen too many in­juries and deaths caused by driv­ers who speed and en­dan­ger peo­ple’s lives,” Wynne said Tues­day in Ottawa, where she was cam­paign­ing for the Nov. 17 Ottawa-Vanier by­elec­tion.

“Our in­tent is to give mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties more tools to help keep peo­ple safe on our roads,” the premier said, em­pha­siz­ing the cam­eras would not be placed on pro­vin­cial high­ways as they briefly were — amid po­lit­i­cal con­tro­versy — in 1994-95.

“We are do­ing this . . . be­cause we know it will make it safer for kids . . . and be­cause mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties have asked us to work with them.” Ottawa Mayor Jim Wat­son said “this is great news” be­cause it will make streets safer and free up po­lice of­fi­cers from man­ning radar guns to do more press­ing work.

Wat­son pre­dicted “speed­ers will be pe­nal­ized with a heavy fine and po­ten­tially some de­merit points” though details such as penal­ties have not yet been fi­nal­ized be­cause the leg­is­la­tion hasn’t been tabled.

All rev­enue from the tick­ets will go to mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties, who would have more power to im­prove safety in school zones.

Un­der the leg­is­la­tion, towns and cities will be able to:

Use cam­eras to take pho­tos of speed­ers’ li­cence plates and mail the ve­hi­cle plate holder a ticket.

In­tro­duce ad­di­tional re­duced speed-limit zones to de­crease col­li­sions be­tween ve­hi­cles and pedes­tri­ans.

In­stall more red-light cam­eras to make in­ter­sec­tions safer.

In Fe­bru­ary, Tory asked Wynne to amend pro­vin­cial laws to al­low photo radar in Toronto.

On Tues­day, the mayor said he was “grat­i­fied” by a promised change that could save chil­dren’s lives.

“I would cer­tainly want to (move) very quickly on this,” Tory told re­porters at city hall, adding he hopes Toronto school-zone speed­ers are be­ing nabbed by photo radar “early in the new year.”

“We’ve seen a lot of prob­lems this year, tragic prob­lems, with the safety of all pedes­tri­ans young and old.”

The mayor’s push for the change was sig­nif­i­cant be­cause it was for­mer Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tive premier Mike Harris who scrapped photo radar in1995, less than a year af­ter NDP premier Bob Rae in­tro­duced it to On­tario high­ways.

Tory, a for­mer Con­ser­va­tive leader, noted times have changed since the era when photo radar was de­rided as a cash grab.

In­deed, both PC Leader Patrick Brown and NDP Leader An­drea Hor­wath have said they would wel­come safety cam­eras, sug­gest­ing photo radar is no longer the po­lit­i­cal hot but­ton it was two decades ago.

“It was the Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tives that got rid of photo radar, so there is some hes­i­ta­tion to­ward that, but . . . the re­al­ity is mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties are des­per­ately look­ing at new rev­enue mech­a­nisms be­cause of un­der­fund­ing,” Brown said in Fe­bru­ary.

Hor­wath said “it’s ac­tu­ally time to have a new look” at the mea­sure, given the at­ti­tu­di­nal and tech­no­log­i­cal changes.

“We sim­ply can­not have a po­lice of­fi­cer on ev­ery sin­gle street where there’s a po­ten­tial speeder.”

A study re­leased ear­lier this year by York Univer­sity and the Hospi­tal for Sick Chil­dren found that the most dan­ger­ous part of a child’s day was likely dur­ing the morn­ing drop-off, with con­gested streets and crazy driv­ing.

Re­searchers looked at col­li­sions and in­jury rates, as well as par­ents’ habits be­hind the wheel, and ob­served at least two in­stances of dan­ger­ous driv­ing dur­ing the morn­ing rush hour at al­most 90 per cent of schools they mon­i­tored.

The study also re­ported that over a 12-year pe­riod, 411 chil­dren in the ar­eas stud­ied were hit by a car within 200 me­tres of the school and, of those, 45 were dur­ing peak times. With files from David Rider and Kristin Rushowy

KEITH BEATY/TORONTO STAR FILE PHOTO

The Lib­er­als’ plan for safety cam­eras comes af­ter a re­quest from Toronto Mayor John Tory.

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