Concerns over the reliability of Edmonton's intersection safety cameras have prompted the province to announce a refund on more than 100,000 paid "Speed on Green" tickets issued back to November 2009.
The Crown is also withdrawing all tickets that are currently before the courts. The head Crown prosecutor for Edmonton, Steve Bilodeau, obtained an order Monday from a Court of Queen's Bench judge to quash all convictions.
"This is all about public confidence. This is about reliability of the intersection safety cameras," Bilodeau said.
"And when the Crown takes a case to court, we have to be able to say to the public and to the courts, that this is reliable, this is accurate, this is correct and because of a glitch with the ISC cameras, we can't do that."
About 140,000 tickets will be overturned in total, Bilodeau said. The lost revenue on the overturned tickets is estimated to be $13 million, Bilodeau said. About $12.3 million will need to be refunded.
On Jan. 14, the city announced it was suspending its Speed on Green program after some vehicles were clocked at a questionable rate of speed.
Monday's decision affects 102,700 tickets that were paid between November 2009 and Jan. 14. The refund process will likely take three to four months.
Tickets withdrawn back to start of program
The city's general manager of transportation, Bob Boutilier, said the fact the Crown quashed the tickets back to the beginning of the intersection safety program raises questions for him.
Boutilier said he needs to find out why the Crown went back that far, since the city only started noticing problems with the cameras in July.
"I'm concerned that the extent of the Crown's decision makes this a big issue," he said.
"If they've gone back to the beginning of the Speed on Green [program], I've a lot more concerns than just looking at something that might have occurred part way through the system. "
Boutilier expects the cameras will be offline for another month.
The city takes in most of the revenue generated by the tickets, with the remainder going to the province. The lost revenue will be carried over from the 2010 operating surplus so there should be no impact on this year's taxes, Boutilier said.
However, there will be an effect on city and police traffic safety programs, which are funded from ticket revenues.
Vehicle clocked at 143 km/h
Bilodeau said he first became aware of the issue on Jan. 12 when one of the Edmonton Crown prosecutors brought him a questionable ticket. The vehicle was recorded going 143 km/h on the Yellowhead Trail — but so were all the other vehicles around it.
Bilodeau said he raised the issue with the police force's acting chief, David Korol. Police agreed there was a problem and made a recommendation the next day for the Crown to stop all prosecutions.
"I really give the Edmonton Police Service credit. They took the high road on this," Bilodeau said. "They didn't quibble about it. They didn't try to persuade us that there was anything else to do but stop the prosecutions on this."
Tickets issued due to red-light cameras and photo radar are still valid and must be paid or dealt with in court.
Bilodeau said the issue only affects intersection cameras in Edmonton.
Refunds to those who have paid the overturned tickets are estimated to be $12.3 million. An earlier version of the story incorrectly put that number at $13 million, which is the amount of lost revenue from all tickets, both paid and unpaid.Jan 24, 2011 6:30 AM MT