Speed camera revenues won’t go to ICBC, attorney general says

Click to play video 'Red light camera revenue won’t go to ICBC' Red light camera revenue won’t go to ICBC
WATCH: The NDP government says the new revenue from red light cameras will not be used to address the growing deficit at ICBC and bring down premiums. As Paul Johnson reports, some critics are blasting that decision.

B.C.’s attorney general is speeding past earlier suggestions that fines collected for offences caught on intersection cameras could fix ICBC’s financial woes.

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, David Eby said those revenues will instead be spread out to municipalities to fund local road safety programs, rather than going to the provincial insurer.

“This red-light camera initiative is not a revenue-generation piece for ICBC,” Eby said after a speech at the Surrey Board of Trade. “It’s not going to be creating money that will help close the financial gap at ICBC.

READ MORE: Turning on red light cams to catch speeders a ‘tax grab,’ say BC Liberals

“Where revenues from tickets go is to local government, after the costs of administration are deducted, and we’re hopeful to work with local government to use that money to improve road safety further, to invest that money in infrastructure in the city to reduce collisions because that will create a virtuous circle for everybody.”

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That contradicts earlier reports that upgrading B.C.’s red light cameras to monitor speeding 24 hours a day could help with the province’s effort to reduce driver insurance rates and help save ICBC from a crushing $1.3-billion loss projected for this year.

READ MORE: B.C. attorney general pledges to fix ICBC ‘dumpster fire’

Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth had floated the idea that some of the revenue from speeding tickets could be redistributed to the insurer.

WATCH BELOW: Ted Chernecki reports on the NDP’s decision to upgrade red light cameras, which critics are calling photo radar

Click to play video 'Province upgrades red light cameras to catch speeders' Province upgrades red light cameras to catch speeders
Province upgrades red light cameras to catch speeders

Municipalities collect ticket revenues after costs are deducted by the province, which initially collects the fines when they’re paid.

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Ian Tootill with SENSE B.C. (Safety by Education Not Speed Enforcement) said allowing the revenues to stay with the municipalities, and allowing them to increase, will only make local governments more dependent.

“Municipalities should not be turning their police departments into profit centres,” Tootill said. “They should not be addicted to ticket fine revenue.”

READ MORE: Former civil servant pleased with B.C. decision on speed cameras

Former senior public servant Richard McCandless said Thursday that the decision to keep the revenues within government is a mistake, especially when the financial situation at ICBC is so severe.

“It’s a continuation of the status quo, where the government is living off the revenues of ICBC, and when ICBC is in such financial difficulty it’s time to change these business practices,” he said.

During the Surrey Board of Trade speech, Eby highlighted some of the changes the province is committing to in order to fix ICBC’s finances, including capping minor injury payouts at $5,500 and creating a tribunal to avoid sending every claim dispute through B.C. Supreme Court.

Those changes are set to go into effect in April 2019.

READ MORE: ICBC looks at penalizing drivers instead of vehicle owners, among many proposals for change

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Other solutions being floated by the NDP include changing the length of time it will take drivers to retrieve their ICBC discounts, and re-evaluating the driver-based model of insurance and the rules around free at-fault crashes.

Those and other proposals are included in a questionnaire that’s available for public consultation until April 5.

With files from Paul Johnson and Richard Zussman