Petition created to lobby province for community safety zones and photo radar along Highway 28

Click to play video: 'Photo radar may be an option for a stretch of Highway 28 known for high speeds and deadly collisions' Photo radar may be an option for a stretch of Highway 28 known for high speeds and deadly collisions
Photo radar could be coming to a long stretch of cottage country highway known for its deadly collisions. A petition has been created to lobby the provincial government for speed cameras along Highway 28 from Burleigh Falls to Apsley. Mark Giunta reports – Sep 9, 2021

Photo radar could be coming to a stretch of Highway 28 from Burleigh Falls to Apsley if a petition garners enough support and the Ontario Ministry of Transportation buys in.

The petition was created by North Kawartha Township officials and Peterborough-Kawartha MPP Dave Smith and will be available to sign at most commercial businesses along Highway 28 and at Smith’s Peterborough office.

“The municipality has put forward for a community safety zone that would allow for us to put in photo radar cameras and it would double the fine if you’re caught speeding in that area,” Smith tells Global News Peterborough.

READ MORE: Calls for safety improvements along Highway 28 in Peterborough County

“We started a petition as well to demonstrate there is support from the community to have photo radar put in.  We would ideally have multiple photo radar units between Burleigh Falls and Apsley. To put into perspective, if we get a community safety zone and we had five photo radar cameras, if you were travelling 95 km/h (in an 80 zone) from Burleigh Falls to Apsley, the fine will be $525.

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“That is a significant impact on your pocketbook and we believe something like that would change behaviour.”

Smith and North Kawartha mayor Carolyn Amyotte noted this is not a cash grab and is meant to act as a deterrent.

“This is something that is one of the tools that we’re going to need to use to modify people’s driving habits and make them safer,” Amyotte said.

The speed camera would record the speed of the vehicle, license plate, make and model, date and time of the offence and direction of travel.

As for penalties, photo radar tickets are fines only – there are no demerit points and it doesn’t appear on a driving record.

The conviction for speeding goes against the vehicle not against the driver.

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Smith said the highway has been designed to allow for safe travel at 80 km/h.

He tells Global News Peterborough that lowering the speed limit will likely not stop motorists from driving too fast and that the OPP doesn’t have the manpower to ‘sit and observe’ the highway 24/7.

“The photo radar is the way to go. We’ll get your license plate and you’ll get a bill in the mail.”

According to the OPP, there have been close to 300 collisions on a section of the highway between Big Cedar and Apsley in the last five years — four of which were fatal, resulting in six deaths.

Read more: Victims identified in Highway 28 fatal head-on collision north of Peterborough

Amyotte also noted that on Tuesday, the OPP laid a stunt driving charge against a motorist who was travelling at 140 km/h in an 80 zone just ‘a matter of feet’ away from where two Stoney Creek residents died in a crash back on Aug. 21.

Smith said he will table the petition, once it had enough signatures, at Queen’s Park when the legislature returns on Oct. 4.

“As soon as we have a critical number and I would say if we can get to 300 signatures that would be enough to start the process with the ministry.”

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Meanwhile, photo radar could be on the table for other areas in Peterborough County where speeding and major collisions are an issue — which could include known problem areas on County Road 507, north of Peterborough.

At the county council meeting on Wednesday, Amyotte brought up the fact a township councillor had asked the regional coroner’s office to conduct an inquest into the collisions on a section of Highway 28 between Big Cedar and Woodview.

“I think it’s really important. It’s just another way to address this issue,” she said. “We’ve got a serious problem on this highway as you all know.”

READ MORE: Student in critical condition after being struck by vehicle in north end of Peterborough

“There’s too many idiots out there. I’m sorry, but every damn road we talk about has this going on. Every road — whether it’s county, township or province.  I don’t know what’s caused this but there’s a bunch of idiots out there and I don’t know why they don’t understand the speed limit,” said warden J. Murray Jones.

Cavan Monaghan Township mayor Scott McFadden suggested photo radar could be a viable option to curb reckless driving.

“We can do the cameras. For some, it’s not a popular topic, but they’re all throughout the Durham Region and GTA and you see them in the larger urban areas,” he said.

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“Quite frankly, slow down. Do the speed limit and put the camera up. I don’t know why we’re so bashful to put these things up.

Jones then replied, “totally agree Scott. Photo radar was the only answer to this a few years ago.  It worked like a charm.”

In an email to Global News Peterborough, county chief administrative officer Sheridan Graham confirmed she will bring back a report on photo radar feasibility ‘across the county’ at a later council meeting.

Global News Peterborough asked the Ministry of Transportation what the requirements are to install photo radar.

Late Thursday afternoon, the ministry responded:

“Automated Speed Enforcement (ASE) can only be deployed by municipalities in School Zones or Community Safety Zones. ASE is not permitted on provincial highways.

Ontario Regulation 398/19: Automated Speed Enforcement sets out evidentiary and procedural rules for ASE systems, including signage requirements. The regulatory framework allows municipalities to use ASE systems only in designated school zones and community safety zones with limits under 80km/h, where the risk of speed-related collisions, injuries and fatalities is greatest.

Municipalities are responsible for the administration and operation of the program and do not require provincial approval to pursue an ASE program.”

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An exemption would need to be made for Highway 28.

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