Saskatoon Mayor Charlie Clark wants to see cities take full control over photo radar enforcement of speeding drivers, which would put the brakes on a current model overseen by Saskatchewan Government Insurance (SGI).
Clark said the city is capable of operating photo radar the same way it does red light cameras – with all the money going into city coffers.
“We would bear all of the administrative costs, we would pay for the cameras, and then, yeah, we would also have revenues as well,” Clark said, emphasizing the program is about increasing safety rather than revenue.
However, money collected would continue being used for traffic safety improvements like intersection enhancements, traffic calming measures and safety campaigns.
His proposal comes after the conclusion of the provincial photo radar pilot project implemented by SGI. In September, the province made the project permanent but changed the funding formula resulting in less money for cities.
Under the new model, Saskatoon faces a $350,000 hit every year, Clark said.
WATCH BELOW: Photo radar catches over 120,000 drivers in Saskatchewan pilot
When a photo radar ticket is handed out in a city, 25 per cent goes to the province’s general revenue fund, while the remaining 75 per cent, after recovering costs, is divided between the municipality and a provincial traffic safety fund.
Cities can apply to the traffic safety fund for more improvements, though it means money collected in Regina, Moose Jaw and Saskatoon could be spent in other municipalities.
“The implications are quite significant for the city being able to be the master of our own destiny in terms of being able to fund and address important traffic safety issues in our community,” Clark said.
“I think it’s a dangerous precedent.”
Minister Responsible for SGI Joe Hargrave said the Saskatchewan government is not willing to change legislation to give cities power over their own photo radar enforcement.
“The cities don’t pay a dime for the cameras that they do have, so the revenue that they do get is just like a bonus revenue that they do get,” Hargrave said.
“Their cost is zero for maintenance of the photo radar equipment,” he added.
He also reiterated that the province wasn’t obligated to continue with the same formula used during the pilot project.
“They’ve had the benefit of some pretty decent revenue since the pilot project started,” Hargrave said.
As of Feb. 28, 2017, photo radar pilot generated $10.4 million in revenue with expenses of $5.4 million, according to an evaluation by SGI.
As a result of the pilot, the City of Saskatoon distributed $460,000 of its photo radar revenue, while the City of Regina re-purposed $256,000 and Moose Jaw dolled out $450,000.
Since September, photo radar has generated $889,500 in tickets province-wide, SGI figures state.
During Monday’s meeting of Saskatoon’s transportation committee, members unanimously endorsed a recommendation to request four more photo radar cameras from SGI.
Final approval for additional cameras will be voted on at the March 25 meeting of city council.