Public safety minister wants to know 'downside' of red-light cameras

Public Safety Minister Carl Urquhart says he wants to see for himself how red-light cameras have worked in Edmonton before considering the possibility of allowing them in New Brunswick.

There's currently no legislation in the province that allows red-light cameras to be used, but cities like Fredericton are eager for the change.

Since becoming minister, Urquhart has meet with chiefs of police in New Brunswick and municipality stakeholders about changing the Motor Vehicle Act.

But he's adamant he wants to see how they work for himself before his department takes another step.

"I'm a visual person, they [Edmonton police] said they would show me their system," he said.

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"I don't want to know the upside, I want to know the downside. What doesn't work about it, why doesn't it work, if they could change it?"

Earlier this week Fredericton city traffic engineer John Lewis said red-light cameras would be an option to reduce collisions in intersections with high-accident rates.

"Other jurisdictions, particularly Edmonton, have shown pretty dramatic reduction in red-light running and those types of collisions when that type of technology is used in the right spot," Lewis said.

Urquhart said staff at Public Safety are looking at statistics from places around the world where the cameras are used.

Since he's already travelling to Edmonton for a ministerial conference, Urquhart said his meeting with police won't cost taxpayers any more.

"After I've done that I'll be back to talk about it further with my stakeholders," Urquhart said.

"Is it a tool that will protect the people, increase the safety of the people? And if it is, you've probably figured out in our government we don't make change for the sake of change. Premier Higgs made it very clear to all of us, he wants measurable results."

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Urquhart said he also wants to look into how the system would work on vehicles where the front licence plate has been removed. The Progressive Conservatives under Blaine Higgs campaigned on an election platform that included a promise to remove the front licence plate for New Brunswick cars.

But Urquhart said that's not the priority.

"We want to know if it works and if it will work if it's feasible to bring into the province," he said.

Urquhart said he doesn't have a timetable for when a proposal for red-light camera legislation would be ready.

Still, Fredericton Coun. Stephen Chase, a longtime supporter of the safety feature, is feeling optimistic.

"I'm very pleased that Minister Urquhart is taking that extra step and visiting with Edmonton's office of traffic safety while he's out in Edmonton for his ministerial meetings," Chase said.

"I'm very confident he'll come away with a positive reaction to what he sees while there."