‘I think people have every right to be outraged’: Edmonton city councillor on photo radar costs

A new report by the city's auditor shows Edmonton's photo radar program is much more costly to run that originally thought. Global News

EDMONTON — A new report by the city’s auditor shows Edmonton’s photo radar program is much more costly to run that originally thought.

“It’s obviously way off the track that it’s supposed to be – how it was sold and how it was brought down,” said Ward 11 City Councillor Mike Nickel.

When the City of Edmonton took over the program in 2007 it was expected to cost about $2.3 million to operate, but that number has climbed over the years. To date, the city has spent $66 million to operate the photo radar program.

“I think people have every right to be outraged,” said Nickel.

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On average, it costs $19 to process one ticket, which is about 75 per cent more than the city anticipated. At one point, in 2009, it cost $34.58 to process one ticket.

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“Things could have been done better in terms of getting back to council and keeping them updated,” said Gerry Shimko with the city’s Office of Traffic Safety. “In the long term and when you start looking at the numbers and if you look at what the program generates, it’s always in the millions.”

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There were delays implementing the system, which the city says caused costs to increase. New software and technology also added to the tab.

According to the city, there are fewer injuries on the roads now, but the number of speeding infractions continues to rise.

“Is photo radar just a cash generator? Or is it legitimately slowing people down, making the roads safer? I would argue that it isn’t making the roads safer,” said Nickel. “I’ve never supported photo radar and I won’t be supporting photo radar in the future.”

READ MORE: Photo radar: cash cow or safety initiative?

The city says any cost overruns are covered by the program’s revenue, which is higher than expected. Any extra money goes towards community projects.

The auditor’s report will be brought to council on Wednesday.

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With files from Eric Szeto, Global News.

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