Photo Radar Becomes Permanent: Michelson Answers to Controversy

Robert Thomas

With photo radar now being made a permanent fixture on Saskatchewan roadways there has been plenty of criticism raised in the community and elsewhere in the province.

To help get a better picture of the entire issue, and add some clarity, MJ Independent approached Moose Jaw North MLA Warren Michelson with some tough questions and concerns.

The following are the questions and answers verbatim.

Moose Jaw North MLA Warren Michelson

Moose Jaw North MLA Warren Michelson

In the permanent program 25 percent of all funds collected go into the Province's General Revenue account. Many people, locally, have expressed their dissatisfaction with this occurring can you tell me the reasoning behind this?

Warren: There is some confusion surrounding this. The 25 percent going to the GRF is not new. This has been the case for many years. With all traffic tickets, including photo speed enforcement tickets, 25 percent of the revenue goes to the GRF and helps fund administration of the court and collection processes.

What has changed is the how the rest of the revenue is shared. Photo speed enforcement revenue will contribute to a Provincial Traffic Safety Fund. This fund will be able to be accessed by communities throughout the province for traffic safety improvements, even if there is no photo speed enforcement in their community.

Here's what that looks like:

• 25% of PSE ticket revenue goes to the GRF (This was always the case)

• SGI is reimbursed for cost recovery out of the remaining 75% (This was always the case)

• Any remaining revenue after cost recovery is split 50/50 between the municipality (must be used for traffic safety initiatives) and the Provincial traffic safety fund (This is new; previously the host municipality kept all the remaining revenue for traffic safety initiatives, and no other municipalities could access it)

• If the cost of running the program is more than the 75% remaining, SGI will bear the full cost and none will be passed on to the municipality (This was always the case).

How do you respond to criticisms from opposition opponents who allege making a portion of photo radar receipts go to general revenues shows a weakness in the Sask Party's management of the provincial economy?

Given that nothing has changed, that criticism is baseless. One-quarter of all traffic fine revenue goes to the GRF. It helps pay for the administration and collection of fine revenue.

The responsibility of the Government is to assure that safety is the ultimate goal of traveling Saskatchewan roadways. We realize that excessive speeds increase danger, which can result in costly accidents and death. Photo radar has shown it reduces speeds in critical areas which results in less accidents and casualties.
— Warren Michelson

Are you aware the funds generated by the proceeds of photo radar have had an effect on the City of Moose Jaw's budgetary bottom lineWe understand that Photo Speed Enforcement revenue is not insignificant. But the goal behind the PSE program has always been to improve safety on Saskatchewan roads, not generate revenue.

The best results would be to see zero tickets and zero revenue. But if revenue IS generated because someone chooses to drive faster than the legal limit in areas where signs clearly indicate photo speed enforcement is taking place, their fines will support additional traffic safety initiatives throughout the province of Saskatchewan.

How does the government respond to local criticisms that funds generated by cameras in Moose Jaw should not be shared with other communities who have no cameras.

It is not just residents of Moose Jaw who get PSE tickets in Moose Jaw. The Highway 1 location results in a lot of tickets from people passing through.

However, if municipalities have a camera, they will get a portion of the ticket revenue it generates to invest in traffic safety initiatives.

We want all communities to be able to receive funds to improve traffic safety as well. The new Provincial Traffic Safety Fund is a way for all communities to benefit from the revenues of the program.

On the other side of the issue there are those who view the cameras as merely a tax grab. What sort of response do you have to those types of criticisms?

It's not a tax grab. Traffic fines aren't taxes; they are a consequence of breaking the law.

This is not about revenue. We are hoping there will be less revenue, because our goal is zero tickets and zero crashes

People who obey speed limits don't get speeding tickets.

Do you have anything else to add?

Excessive speed is one of the leading causes of death and injury on Saskatchewan roads.

The results of the photo speed enforcement pilot show that it has reduced speeds in both high-speed locations and school zones, decreasing the frequency and severity of collisions and injuries.

Editor's Note - Next week MJ Independent hopes to get responses from the City of Moose Jaw to show how funds from photo radar have been spent on Traffic Safety Initiatives.