Thirteen sites selected for photo radar in Niagara

Photo radar is on the verge of becoming a reality in Niagara after a regional council committee voted on Tuesday to authorize the use of four units on a 22-month contract.

Councilors from the area’s public works committee passed the motion to place them in community safety zones. The plan still needs to be approved by the full board.

Here’s what readers should know about the decision:

Why? Automated photo radar cameras in community safety zones aim to reduce speed and collisions and ultimately protect vulnerable road users. This is part of the council’s strategic plan for community health and safety.

A staff report said the technology is a proven and effective additional tool for enforcing speed limits and providing safer roads for pedestrians, cyclists and motorists.

Additionally, an analysis of collisions across all school zones in Niagara revealed an average of 5.6 collisions per location per year in community safety zones. Accidents were among the highest in areas where more than 10,000 vehicles traveled daily.

What is a Community Safety Zone? These are sections of roads designated as an area where the safety of children and citizens is paramount, including schools, daycares, playgrounds, parks, hospitals or residences for the elderly. They can also be used for collision prone areas. There is signage to tell the public where they start and end.

Where are the pitches? The Region has analyzed all schools with entrances to regional roads. A key metric was the speed differential from the posted limit. On average, vehicles traveled about 14 km/h above the posted speed limit in school zones, including:

  • The Alexander Kuska School in Welland.
  • Blessed Trinity Secondary School in Grimsby.
  • Crossroads school and St. David’s school in Niagara-on-the-Lake.
  • DSBN Academy and St. Ann Catholic School in St. Catharines.
  • Greendale School and Westlane High School in Niagara Falls.
  • John Calvin School and Smithville District Christian High School in West Lincoln.
  • Our Lady of Victory Catholic School in Fort Erie.
  • Twenty Valley School in Lincoln.

When? The report to the committee says staff members are working to get the program up and running “as soon as possible” once the supplier, Redflex Traffic Systems (Canada) Ltd., confirms that it is technically possible to install them at the selected locations.

What is the plan? The staff report states that Redflex provides the region with a turnkey service to design, supply, install, operate and maintain camera equipment. The images will be uploaded by Redflex staff and sent to a joint processing center in Toronto, where the photos will be reviewed. After that, a decision is made whether a ticket will be issued.

How much will it cost taxpayers? The camera project should be revenue-neutral, which means revenue equals expenses. The daily rate to run the automated application is $134 per camera, and the total vendor cost for 22 months is $560,000.

What are the advisors saying?

Jim Bradley, Regional Chairman: “Obviously there is a problem with speeding, and we don’t have enough police officers in place to catch people speeding in these areas. Yes, it has a cost, but it will certainly have an impact on road safety, and that is extremely important.

Com. Rob Foster, Lincoln, “We have been consistent since the beginning of this council in implementing this. Unfortunately, things have gone sideways a bit with the pandemic, but I can’t wait to see this in place.

Mayor Walter Sendzik, St. Catharines: “Automated speed enforcement and red-light cameras are essential to building safe neighborhoods and safe streets and communities. This has proven effective not only here in Canada – and pretty much every European city where they have been used for 15-20+ years.