Edmonton Journal

Jump in speeding revenue sparked cash-cow complaints

- GORDON KENT

Controvers­y erupted this year over a creature some Edmonton drivers said was unfairly devouring their wallets — the photo radar cash cow.

Motorists who claimed the program was aimed mainly at fattening city coffers were incensed when figures were released in March that showed 2013 revenue was double that of the previous year.

Their unhappines­s was made worse by an August auditor’s report indicating the city’s takeover of photo enforcemen­t from a private company cost $47 million more than planned.

This expense was all covered by increased revenue from fines, but opponents argued that with 60 per cent more tickets than expected issued in 2008-12, the program was too strict.

They complained a traditiona­l leeway given to speeders had been quietly removed and motorists were being nabbed for going just a few kilometres over the limit.

City stats told a different tale.

They showed that no one had received a photo or laser radar ticket for going less than six kilometres too fast in the last three years.

While the proportion of tickets for speeding by six to 10 kilometres an hour went up during the period, this still made up less than three per cent of the 423,000 issued. Fed-up Mayor Don Iveson went on the attack against the critics in October, saying the program was run to make streets safer, not as a cash grab.

He told reporters he’d “absolutely had it” with people who felt they were above Edmonton’s laws, especially when they can avoid tickets by simply not speeding.

“I’m a lawmaker,” he said.

“I make laws not to be casually obeyed as it suits you.”

But by the end of the year, Iveson had helped create a fund to avoid perception­s of “empire building” by directing surplus ticket money toward community projects.

 ?? AMBER BRACKEN/ EDMONTON JOURNAL ?? Journal columnist David Staples holds up a photo radar ticket he got in February for travelling 10km/h over the limit.
AMBER BRACKEN/ EDMONTON JOURNAL Journal columnist David Staples holds up a photo radar ticket he got in February for travelling 10km/h over the limit.
 ?? JASON FRANSON/ EDMONTON JOURNAL/ FILE ?? City statistics from 2014 show that Gateway Boulevard near Ellerslie Road is the area with highest number of photo radar tickets last two years.
JASON FRANSON/ EDMONTON JOURNAL/ FILE City statistics from 2014 show that Gateway Boulevard near Ellerslie Road is the area with highest number of photo radar tickets last two years.

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