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Report urges city to spend $20 million on photo radar

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Winnipeg's photo-radar program will be up for debate after a new report recommends the city spend $20 million for a contractor to operate the program for another seven years.

An administrative report, released this morning, recommends the city award the contract for its photo-radar program to ACS Public Sector Solutions between 2013 and 2020. The city wants the contractor to switch from film cameras to digital, which will provide clearer photographs and more efficient processing of red-light tickets.

Council's protection and community services committee will review the recommendation at a meeting next week.

Protection and community services chairman Coun. Scott Fielding (St. James) said he thinks Winnipeg should discontinue the photo-radar program and devote more officers to traffic enforcement instead.

Winnipeg police reviewed the impact of increasing the number of full-time officers dedicated to traffic enforcement from 10 to 67 to maintain day and evening coverage in all districts. Their report said the increasing cost of salaries and court costs over the time period reduce the net revenues.

Fielding said the program should focus on increasing public safety, not revenue. He said having more officers conduct traditional traffic enforcement will improve road safety and also give police an ability to catch other types of criminal offences - such as robberies - while they're on the street doing traffic stops.

"You're going to have that added benefit," he said. "I think it's a better type of policing."

Coun. Ross Eadie (Mynarski) said he's disappointed the administrative report does not recommend Winnipeg install more photo-radar cameras. He said the cameras have improved safety at city intersections and helped change driver behaviour.

Last year, a study the city commissioned found the number of collisions at red-light-camera intersections dropped 46 per cent after the devices were installed. Researchers found the cameras reduced the number of T-bone crashes, which experts say are the accidents most likely to cause severe injuries or fatalities.

However, the same study found rear-end collisions increased 15 per cent at red-light camera intersections, from 27 to 28 per month to 32 to 34 per month.

"Ultimately, these things have made the intersections safer," Eadie said.

 

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