City kept in the dark ahead of provincial changes to photo radar

Alberta introduced new guidelines to govern photo radar enforcement in the province last week, but the City of Edmonton didn't know some of them were coming.

The provincial government's changes extend the freeze on new photo radar units until Dec. 1, 2022 (and prohibit upgrading photo radar equipment). Photo radar will also not be allowed on residential streets under 50 km/h, except for in school, playground, or construction zones. Municipalities will have to provide a safety reason for existing photo radar units by next June, or be removed.

"The UCP has never been a consultative government despite their best arguments in public," said Speaking Municipally co-host Troy Pavlek, who was at the media availability where Edmonton's head of traffic safety announced the new guidelines.

He asked Jessica Lamarre if the city received advance notice from the province that it wouldn't be able to use photo radar on residential streets.

"The answer was a plain no. This was never surfaced as an idea, this was never floated as an option and they found out about it when we found out about it," Pavlek said in Episode 158.

Photo radar on 132 Avenue at 103 Street

Photo radar on 132 Avenue at 103 Street. (City of Edmonton)

Pavlek and co-host Mack Male pondered why the province decided to prohibit photo radar on residential streets with a speed limit under 50 km/h when both Edmonton and Calgary's residential limit is 40 km/h.

"I don't think it's a coincidence that the premier ... talked about the idea of local voters in municipalities petitioning their councils to get rid of photo radar ... essentially saying 'We're not going to tell them that they can't have photo radar. But we are going to kneecap this so that it's effectively useless in your cities,'" Male said.

Councillor Andrew Knack also said he was concerned about the restriction on residential streets, reported CTV.

"The suggestion you shouldn't be able to use it on streets under 50 km/h goes against what we hear from the public," Knack said, adding that neighbourhoods are where the majority of his constituents want to see slower traffic and more police enforcement.

Out of approximately 1,680 photo radar locations in Edmonton, 350 or 21% are in residential neighbourhoods with speed limits of 40 km/h.

"That's a significant number of spots that we can no longer enforce photo radar," said Male.