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.
“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.”
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.
Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth had floated the idea that some of the revenue from speeding tickets could be redistributed to the insurer.
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Municipalities collect ticket revenues after costs are deducted by the province, which initially collects the fines when they’re paid.
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.”
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.
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