Recently, Leigh Matheson noticed something unusual in her Edmonton neighbourhood.
“It seemed a bit deceptive,” she says of the photo radar box that was set up Friday morning in the area of 138 Street on 102 Avenue.
For years, a photo radar truck, which acted as a cue to slow down, was used at the location. Matheson wonders what motivated the change.
“I think people don’t even realize what’s happening — where they’re getting a ticket from.”
The radar box was reintroduced onto city streets in the summer of 2016 following a seven-year absence.
It’s controversial for some because of the perception the less-visible equipment is used more so as a cash cow than a safety deterrent.
“This tool is actually authorized for use throughout the whole city, on any site. So any site could potentially have it,” Gerry Shimko, with the office of traffic safety, told Global News in August 2016.
“We will be prioritizing locations where we can’t use other equipment.”
On 102 Avenue, the radar trucks have been used for years, leading to questions about why the switch was made to the more subtle box.
“In this particular location, we previously had an enforcement vehicle parked on the boulevard,” the city said in a statement. “However, we received feedback from the community that it was damaging the grass.”
The truck was moved to the adjacent service road, but with new trees planted, it affected the city’s enforcement ability, resulting in the introduction of the radar box.
“This is a location that sees excessive speeds by motorists, so we want to ensure that we continue to enforce,” the city said.
Back off 102 Avenue, Matheson says she knows speeding is a problem in her community. She says she would welcome actual police on site to pull people over, rather than see the radar container.
“I feel like people are still going to speed because they don’t know that they’re being given a photo radar ticket at that location.”