WPS official grilled on pedestrian safety

Councillors question whether increased traffic revenues sending message to drivers

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While a Winnipeg Police Service (WPS) finance manager was bragging about a 22 per cent rise in traffic enforcement revenue, two councillors Friday grilled her over whether police work was making city streets any safer.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 15/10/2019 (1140 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

While a Winnipeg Police Service (WPS) finance manager was bragging about a 22 per cent rise in traffic enforcement revenue, two councillors Friday grilled her over whether police work was making city streets any safer.

Tara Holowka told the city’s finance committee that while revenue from photo enforcement was down 10 per cent in 2019 compared to the same period in 2018, revenue from traditional enforcement was up 22 per cent.

“So, good news on that side,” she said, adding the number of tickets issued by traffic officers was running 46 per cent ahead of 2018.

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS files Pedestrian deaths, including a four-year-old child on Isabel Street in March, have tripled from three in 2018 to nine so far this year. Winnipeg Police Board secretary Shawna Curtin says traffic enforcement and safety are separate issues.

Councillors Shawn Nason and Markus Chambers both took her to task on the statement.

Chambers said the number of pedestrian deaths so far this year is triple for all of last year.

“Revenues are up, but I don’t know if it’s keeping the population any safer,” Chambers said.

Nason asked how any of her figures was good news.

“Are our drivers that bad that we’re catching more?” Nason asked.

“Is that a measurement of police issuing more tickets or drivers not getting the message?” Chambers asked.

Being a numbers person, Holowka answered the only way she could: “It’s good for revenue.”

Manitoba Public Insurance said there have been nine pedestrians killed in vehicle collisions in Winnipeg to the end of September, compared to three for all of 2018.

Shauna Curtin, the secretary of the Winnipeg Police Board, told the committee that safety and enforcement were separate issues.

“I don’t think we can call ticket revenue a performance measure in terms of safety,” Curtin said.

“It’s not good news, necessarily, when revenue goes up, but it is a good news story that people are being sanctioned for poor driving,” Curtin said.

“It’s impossible to say if that makes us safer or not,” adding similar public discussions at police board meetings and at city hall are having an effect in the community.

“People are paying attention if those sanctions do have some effect.”

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Winnipeg Police Board secretary Shawna Curtin says traffic enforcement and safety are two seperate issues.

An administrative report to the committee examining revenue and expenses from all departments shows the city is projecting a year-end deficit of $6.9 million, with the WPS accounting for $1.1 million of that.

The WPS’ projected year-end deficit is attributed to the decline in photo enforcement revenue.

While the WPS Q2 data shows that revenue from traditional traffic enforcement is up 22 per cent compared to the same time frame in 2018, the actual dollar difference is $230,000; while the 10 per cent decline in photo enforcement revenue is almost twice that amount, $510,000.

Nason said police and city officials should focus on school zones that have a high incident of speed violations, bringing in traffic officers to target the bad drivers.

“Where are the school zones that kids are being put at risk? That is important community information that we should have readily available to us,” Nason said.

Nason said he’s been frustrated in his efforts to get data on speeding violations in school zones in his Transcona ward.

He said a request to the public works department for an accounting by individual school zone for 2018 cannot be provided to him until sometime in 2020.

“Let’s look at where people aren’t paying attention and just put physical enforcement there on occasion to change behaviours,” Nason said following the meeting.

aldo.santin@freepress.mb.ca

Winnipeg Police Service Q2 Report

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Updated on Wednesday, October 16, 2019 4:19 PM CDT: Name fixed.

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