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Council committee OKs new photo-radar contract

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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 Monday 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 recommendations of a scathing 2006 audit into Winnipeg's initial contract with the same firm.

Couns. Thomas Steen (Elmwood), Ross Eadie (Mynarski) and Harvey Smith (Daniel McIntyre) voted for the new contract. Committee chairman Scott Fielding (St. James) opposed it, expressing a preference for hiring more traffic-unit officers instead.

Staff Sgt. Rob Riffel, who commands the traffic unit, told the committee he'd love to hire 200 more officers but noted they spend a lot of time in court as opposed to on the street. Cameras have the advantage of working 24 hours a day, he said.

Police data compiled from intersections employing red-light cameras suggest the devices reduce the number of often-serious T-bone collisions, but also increase less-serious rear-end collisions, Riffel said.

The new contract represents the most financially responsible option for the police, Chief Devon Clunis told the committee. Photo radar is expected to rake in net revenues of $41 million over the life of the contract, said police finance manager Ron Smolik, adding that money offsets other operating costs.

 

The contract will come before executive policy committee on Dec. 5 and council as a whole on Dec. 12.

 

-- Kives

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