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Photo-radar contract clears its first hurdle at city hall

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A new photo-radar contract for Winnipeg has cleared its first hurdle at city hall.

Council's protection and community services committee voted 3-1 this morning to approve a seven-year, $20-million deal that will see ACS Public Sector Solutions operate digital red-light-intersection speed cameras.

The digital cameras will replace existing wet-film cameras.  The new contract has been vetted by city finance experts, as per the advice of a scathing audit into Winnipeg's initial contract with ACS Public Sector Solutions.

Couns. Thomas Steen (Elmwood-East Kildonan), Ross Eadie (Mynarski) and Harvey Smith (Daniel McIntyre) voted in favour of the new contract. Committee chairman Scott Fielding (St. James-Brooklands) voted in opposition.

Fielding has long maintained he would prefer to see more police officers enforce traffic violations.

Winnipeg police Staff Sgt. Rob Riffel said the city already employs a balance of officers and automated cameras. The machines have the advantage of not getting caught up in court the way officers do, he said.

Riffel repeated police statistics that show a reduction in often-fatal T-bone collisions at intersections with red-light cameras, along with an increase in usually less-serious rear-end collisions at those intersections over the same time frame.

He said he is solely concerned about safety.

Police Chief Devin Clunis said the new contract represents the most financially responsible one for the city.

The program is expected to bring in next revenues of $41 million over the life of the contract, said police finance manager Ron Smolik.

That money offsets other policing costs, he said.

The new photo-radar contract also faces executive policy approval and approval from council as a whole.

The same meeting also saw the protection and community services committee receive a verbal report about the fate of aging city hockey arenas. A year ago, the city issued a search for potential private partners or community groups willing to invest in new hockey multiplexes.

Eight proposals came forward but none of them were acceptable, community services director Clive Wightman told the committee.

 A new report may be issued in 2013, Fielding said.

 

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