Photo Radar in Scarborough

Update:

Source – Toronto Star Aug.18/10 & Aug.27/10

If Scarborough Councillor Norm Kelly is re-elected on October 25, 2010 he will want photo radar immediately installed on Pharmacy Avenue, south of Finch Ave in Scarborough.

He wants these newly installed cameras to nab speeders on a school-heavy stretch of Pharmacy Ave., but knows motorists won’t stomach photo radar.

The Scarborough councillor said his proposal is for a pilot project to protect more than 1,500 students who attend Sir John A. Macdonald Collegiate Institute, Fairglen Public School and J.B. Tyrrell Senior Public School.

“Call it photo radar and people say, ‘I remember that, I’m agin’ it.’ So I gave it a new name — electronic traffic management,” Kelly said Wednesday.

He convinced the works committee to vote in favour of asking the province to allow a pilot project for Pharmacy south of Finch Ave.

Kelly is worried citizens and council colleagues will rebel if they think it’s a return to the unpopular photo radar system used in the early 1990s that people saw as a cash grab.

More than 1,500 students traipsing to and from Sir John A. Macdonald Collegiate Institute, Fairglen Public School and J.B. Tyrrell Senior Public School are chronically endangered by lead-footed drivers, said Kelly.

“We can’t afford to have a policeman at the side of the road for all the schools. Why don’t we have electronic policemen?”

He envisions a fixed system where motorists see their speed displayed as they approach the school zone, and are snapped if they enter the zone speeding.

City council decided to ask city staff to take a look and report back after the Oct. 25 municipal elections.

Kelly wants to see a system that would flash the vehicle’s speed before the school zone, giving people a chance to slow down. If they don’t, then a photo radar-generated ticket would arrive in the mail.

“Under photo radar, the goal is to raise revenue,” he said. “Under my system, the goal is to have no revenue because you want everyone to obey the warning.

“If you don’t heed the warning, you get a ticket. It’s not designed to raise revenue. If it’s a tax, it’s a tax on stupidity, or carelessness.”

In sending the issue to staff for review, council held off on Kelly’s request to immediately seek the green light from the provincial government.

Full council will vote after October 25, 2010 on whether or not to ask Transportation Minister Kathleen Wynne for the green light on the photo radar pilot project in Scarborough.

“Staff are willing to work with me on exploring the option, and other options to protect school zones not only on Pharmacy Ave. but across the city. It’s a minor victory that takes us closer to what I think the city has to do.”

Last fall, Mississauga city council abandoned plans for a four-year, $6.5 million photo radar pilot project, citing cost concerns and negative public reaction.

That was despite a staff report that found photo radar had reduced speeding and accidents in cities including Winnipeg and Edmonton.

Many Torontonians still harbour negative feelings about photo radar from its 11-month appearance on Ontario highways in the early 1990s. Many complained the camera-equipped vans were a sneaky cash grab.

Richard Tarasuk, principal of Sir John A. Macdonald, has seen fender-benders from his office window, although he isn’t aware of any students being hit in the year he has been at the school.

“Traffic does move quick and you do see some tight situations,” he said.

Sgt. Tim Burrows said Toronto police Traffic Services is not pushing for photo radar. But officers are willing to look at speed-displaying signs, photo radar or anything else that will reduce collisions, he said.

Kelly said reaction to his idea has been mixed.

“Some people are saying, ‘It’s photo radar again, don’t do it.’ Other people are saying, ‘Thank heavens, you’ve come up with something that looks like it can work.’”

See the Ins and Outs of Photo Radar

Update: October 25, 2010 – Norm Kelly re-elected to council in Scarborough – Agincourt’s Ward 40

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