Speeders will have ample time to either find exhaustive alternate routes around incoming speed cameras to Midland, or more simply, just take their foot off the gas for a few seconds.

Councillors approved Wednesday a two-year automated speed enforcement (ASE) pilot program with cameras placed in community safety zones around the town upon implementation next year.

Legal and risk advisor Julie Ellery presented a brief slideshow to accompany the report with the intention of providing further information while gaining staff direction on which of eight community safety zones in Midland would be preferred for data collection over the summer.

“Cameras would be installed that would hopefully attempt to modify driver behaviour and slow traffic in high impact areas, such as community safety zones and school zones; that would assist in making those areas of town much safer,” Ellery explained.

Three options were presented to council, but as was discussed in a closed session at the start of the meeting, Mayor Bill Gordon stated that the option to partner with Newmarket was the financial difference of “the Grand Canyon. This is totally the bargain; that’s the thing we were talking about in-camera”.

Ellery said the option was “the most cost effective and provides the most services to the town, to reduce what the town will be required to do to implement the program. We’re also recommending a pilot program for this two-year period which would take us to the end of this council term.”

While no revenues or expenditures were provided in the staff request to have council approve their favoured option, Ellery explained that by partnering with Newmarket, the first $20 of every ticket would go to that town for contracted services, with any additional revenue to return to Midland.

While reiterating the request for direction, Ellery noted that staff intended to return in the fall with further information on data collection, an administrative penalties bylaw and required policies.

Many on council vocally approved with some mentioning an earlier in-camera session had led to their decision.

Having advocated for the program for years, Gordon noted the ability for the ASE to work along with administrative monetary penalties system (AMPS) to allow municipalities to keep funds from tickets.

“I love the way that we’re approaching this with the AMPS program rather than sending tickets through the court system,” said Gordon, “because we see the backlog in the courts and the 50 per cent abandon rate, basically, of prosecutors just not proceeding with the tickets. So it really has no effect, and really no deterrents, because people are getting their tickets either pleaded down or thrown out.”

Gordon told MidlandToday: “There’s a quasi-judicial process where you can argue against the ticket if you wish; however when you get the ticket in the mail it’s going to have a picture of your licence plate, your car and the speed it was travelling – there’s not a whole lot to argue.”

However, Coun. Jim Downer was the sole voice of opposition during the discussion, stating his preference that speed limits were instead lowered to 40 kilometres per hour on residential streets, as per a defeated motion in early 2023.

“I think what we’re doing here,” stated Downer, “is we’re taking pressure off the OPP over paying to enforce this legislation, and I’m not a big fan of it. But I’m kind of pushed into a corner here.

“We’ve tried everything we can – we reduced speed; it’s not working. Thank God nobody has been seriously injured or killed that I know of. I guess it’s worth a try but I think we’re making a mistake on this,” Downer said.

At the end of the discussion as Ellery stated “the emphasis on this program should really be safety and behaviour modification as opposed to revenue generation”, she once again reiterated a request to council for direction on which community zones to choose for data collection; the words went unheeded as council approved the direction to partner with Newmarket for the ASE program, and the meeting moved to the next agenda item.

Midland’s eight community safety zones are: Cook Dr. from Penetanguishene Rd. to Simcoe Blvd.; Eighth St. from Hugel Ave. to Victoria St.; Hugel Ave. from Woodland Dr. to Sixth St.; King St. from Galloway Blvd. to Highway 12; Midland Pt. Rd. between Gawley Dr. and Glenbrook Dr.; William St. between Yonge St. and Elizabeth St.; Wright Dr. from Cook Dr. to Simcoe Blvd.; and Yonge St. from Eighth St. to Fourth St.

Following the meeting, Gordon spoke to MidlandToday about potential vandalism that could happen to the cameras, as had been seen in other municipalities like Essa Township earlier in the year.

“If someone was really intent on vandalizing these things,” said Gordon, “we lease them, we don’t own them. They’re the responsibility of the company we lease them from. They will come out and replace them forthwith because they make money every time they issue a charge, so there’s motivation for them to be out very quickly and replace the camera.

“The reality is that: as long as we’re not issuing tickets for two kilometres over the posted limit, the people that get a ticket for doing 50 through a school zone – are they really the ones that are going to go out there and vandalize? I don’t know. I’d like to believe not. We’re going to set the tolerances at generally accepted overages.”

He added: “If people’s driving behaviours change so maybe it drives them onto the side streets, it’s harder to drive fast on the side streets because a lot of them have parking on both sides, which is a passive form of traffic calming.

“We may be, unintentionally, slowing traffic down and also distributing it out of one arterial road to some of the smaller ones. I don’t anticipate people going out of their way like that when all they have to do is take their foot off the gas pedal for 200 metres, and then they can continue driving like idiots if they want again.”

The automated speed enforcement and administrative penalties program report is available in the council agenda on the town of Midland website.

Council meetings are held every third Wednesday, and can be viewed on Rogers TV cable channel 53 when available, or through the livestream on the Rogers TV website. Archives of council meetings are available through Rogers TV and on the Town of Midland’s YouTube channel.

By Derek Howard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Jun 13, 2024 at 12:51

This item reprinted with permission from   MidlandToday.ca   Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario
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