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London committee endorses photo radar, pumps brakes on lowering speed limits

The City of London's civic works committee has agreed to move ahead with a proposal to instal photo radar systems in local school zones. Shane Gibson / Global News

London’s civic works committee wants to see the city go ahead with photo radar in school zones but pumped the brakes on a move to lower speed limits during its Tuesday meeting.

Among the items on the committee’s agenda was a potential five-year contract with Redflex Traffic Systems Canada that would have the company provide the City of London with automated speed-enforcement services.

READ MORE: Should London use photo radar in school zones?

The contract, along with the photo radar system it would bring, garnered praise from all councillors on the committee with the exception of Mayor Ed Holder and Ward 1 Coun. Michael van Holst, who were absent from Tuesday’s meeting.

“The sooner we can get these cameras, personally, I feel, the better,” said Ward 2 Coun. Shawn Lewis.

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“You can pass as many laws as you want, you can put up as many speed signs as you want, it doesn’t mean anything unless you can enforce it so I’m glad this is happening,” Ward 6 Coun. Phil Squire said.

However, Squire and Lewis took issue with a proposed three-month grace period that would accompany the instalment of the photo radar system.

During this grace period, offenders would only receive a warning rather than a speeding ticket due to the relatively new system of automated speed enforcement in school zones throughout the province.

READ MORE: Ontario government to allow municipalities to install photo radar in school zones

“I find 90 days to be a really long time to give people an opportunity to come to the realization that photo radar is out there,” Lewis told city staff.

“If you don’t want a ticket, don’t speed in school zones. It’s not rocket science.”

London’s director of roads and transportation Doug MacRae replied to Lewis’ concerns by noting the goal of automated speed enforcement is to adjust behaviours and not to generate revenue from driving infractions.

“We want to be very upfront with our education and awareness programs … with the goal being that we have better speed limit compliance and better safety for vulnerable road users,” MacRae said.

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Shane Maguire, the city’s manager of roadway lighting and traffic control, added that since automated speed enforcement is still new in the province, municipalities will need a transition phase as they gear up to issue speeding tickets based on photo radar.

“Particularly for Toronto, who will be processing … all the automated speed enforcement for the province so they have a lot of staffing-up to do,” Maguire said.

READ MORE: Collisions down, revenue up since red light cameras came to London

The committee voted unanimously to endorse a contract with Redflex Traffic Systems Canada that would see two mobile photo radar systems shuffled between school zones. A city report pegs the cost of the program at nearly $5 million over the course of five years.

Tuesday’s meeting also sought public feedback on lowering speed limits in residential areas and certain downtown roads.

A lengthy discussion between councillors and the public ensued, and the committee voted 3-1 to send the idea back to city staff in order to gather more information on reducing speeds along with feedback from the London Transit Commission.

The endorsements handed out from the civic works committee will have a chance to be rubber-stamped when the full city council meets on Oct. 1.

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WATCH (Sept. 4, 2018): Automated speed enforcement cameras coming to 2 Toronto school zones in pilot project

Click to play video: 'Automated speed enforcement cameras coming to 2 Toronto school zones in pilot project' Automated speed enforcement cameras coming to 2 Toronto school zones in pilot project
Automated speed enforcement cameras coming to 2 Toronto school zones in pilot project – Sep 4, 2018

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