Ford government asking public to weigh in on proposed photo radar changes

The Ford government is seeking public comment on proposed regulatory changes that would allow municipalities to bring in automated speed enforcement (ASE) systems, better known as photo radar, at school and community safety zones.

Ontario's Ministry of Transportation is proposing amendments to the Highway Traffic Act, as well as other regulatory changes, which would allow municipalities to adopt photo radar in these zones on roads with a speed limit of less than 80 km/h.

The changes would also streamline the process for municipalities looking to join the province's Red Light Camera Program.

"This initiative will impose no regulatory impact on vehicle operators or owners that comply with road safety regulations, and no impact on businesses in Ontario," a summary of the government's proposal reads.

"However, owners of vehicles that are used to violate speed limits in community safety or school zones where ASE systems are used would be fined."

When changes are adopted, photo radar would remain an optional program for municipalities. The City of Toronto wants to put photo radar in school zones as part of its Vision Zero plan to eliminate all traffic-related fatalities.

Last year, the city put dozens of ASEs in school zones, but they could only gather data. The ability to ticket or charge drivers will come into effect when the province brings in its regulatory changes.

On Tuesday, the first day of school in the province for most students, Toronto Mayor John Tory said the city wants to install 50 speed enforcement cameras in school and community zones once the province passes the required legislation.

He also noted that the city has established some 136 school safety zones, with plans to complete 63 more by year's end.

Meanwhile, municipal police forces across the GTA are conducting safety blitzes in school zones until Friday.

The back-to-school blitz comes during a particularly tragic year so far on the city's streets. A map of fatal collisions from the Toronto police traffic services division shows that 20 pedestrians have died in the city so far this year.

The Ontario government is inviting public comment until October 3.