Drayton Valley scraps photo radar program in plebiscite

Drayton Valley scraps photo radar program in plebiscite

The cringe-inducing flash of photo radar cameras will no longer light up Drayton Valley intersections.

The town has decided to scrap its Automated Traffic Enforcement program.  At the end of April, the cameras will be turned off.

Though he respects the opinion of his electorate, Mayor Glenn McLean will be sad to see them go.

"I support the use of photo radar," McLean said in an interview with CBC Radio's Edmonton AM.

"I see it as one of several useful tools in trying to get people to drive appropriately. Particularly, it comes into play in school zones and playgrounds, but in other areas as well. Speed limits exist for a reason."

The decision from town council to terminate the program comes after 72 per cent of voters wanted to ditch photo radar tickets for speeding and 75 per cent wanted to end tickets for red-light violations.

Introduced in May 2015, the program has been divisive in the community of 7,200, 145 kilometres southwest of Edmonton.

Though residents were initially keen on photo radar, public opinion seemed to sway quickly after the program was implemented, McLean said.

"During the 2013 general election, the desire for photo radar to be introduced was the single most important issue our councillors heard at the doorstep," he said.

"No one introduces photo radar because they want to be popular, we did it because the community asked us to."

Between May 2015 and September 2016, nearly 12,000 tickets were issued for red light and speeding violations.

Net revenues from photo radar program in 2015 were $120,620, money used for traffic safety and infrastructure upgrades within the community.

McLean acknowledges that many in the community saw the program as a "cash cow" but notes that a majority of residents did not vote in the plebiscite.

"I'm not sorry that it went to a vote," he said. "The community asked us to implement it and we wanted to do a check-in and see if that support still existed. 

"Anecdotally, of course we hear all sorts of things both for and against it. The only way to do it scientifically was by a vote and decisions are made by those who show up."