The Ontario government is now allowing municipalities to install automated speed enforcement cameras on local roads in an effort to improve road safety.
“The province has filed enabling regulations under the Safer School Zones Act that will give municipalities the ability to adopt new and enhanced tools to promote safety in school zones and community safety zones,” Barbara Mottram, a spokesperson for Transportation Minister Caroline Mulroney, told Global News in a statement Monday evening.
“These regulations … provide the framework to support municipalities in developing responsible, transparent and effective programs to promote road safety in their communities.”
The new rules under the Highway Traffic Act, which came into effect on Sunday, only apply to local roads with speeds of less than 80 km/h.
The photos can have the time and data of the picture, a description of the location where the picture was taken, the rate of speed, an indicator to identify the vehicle involved and the posted speed limit on the road where the photo was taken. The vehicle’s licence plate will need to be clearly seen in an enlargement of the picture. Each photo will need to be certified by a provincial offences officer.
Under the regulations, the ticket will then be sent to the registered owner of the vehicle caught on camera within 23 days of the alleged offence date.
Municipalities that install the cameras (which will be in a fixed location or on a mobile unit) in school zones and community safety zones will be required to install signage on the right side of the road “at or immediately before” where the system will be used.
As for potential fines, a spokesperson for Associate Transportation Minister Kinga Surma told Global News the amounts will vary depending on the speed of the vehicle.
When asked about the threshold for getting a ticket, Callum Elder didn’t give a definitive guideline.
“Reasonable and consistent enforcement thresholds will be established across all participating municipalities which are not inconsistent with current law enforcement practices,” he said in a statement, noting it will be up to municipalities to participate in the program.
Elder said there are no plans to expand the initiative to provincial highways.
“This is about protecting vulnerable road users. That is why it is allowed only in school zones and community safety zones with speeds of less than 80 km/h,” he said.
City of Toronto looking to install 50 cameras
Toronto Mayor John Tory welcomed the regulation in a statement released Monday afternoon, saying the move will “help save lives on our streets.”
“I will be doing everything I can to avoid any further delays to getting automated speed enforcement in locations across the city,” he wrote.
“I have asked transportation services to move immediately to begin the process laid out in the provincial regulations to roll out speed cameras in 50 locations across the city.”
He went on to say that the cameras are only one component of the City of Toronto’s road safety plan, adding officials are working to redesign roads, lower speed limits and double the number of red light cameras across the city.
A new, dedicated, eight-member Toronto police traffic enforcement team is set to patrol city streets next year in an effort to crack down on aggressive and dangerous driving. But some advocates questioned the number of officers assigned to the unit, calling for more resources.
Meanwhile, as of Monday evening, it wasn’t clear where exactly the cameras would be deployed and when the devices could be operational.
A spokesperson for Tory said staff are still reviewing the legal details surrounding the new regulations and the deployment of the cameras.