City charging safety advocates for traffic data
$108 fee for collision statistics came into effect in 2016
- Coun. Catherine McKenney said she was unaware of the fee until CBC highlighted the issue.
- McKenney said she will work to abolish the fee during the budget debate in December.
Community groups in Ottawa looking to improve road safety in their neighbourhoods are running into a roadblock of their own: a new fee for the basic traffic data they need to make their case.
Nancy Therrien, a local business owner and member of the Stittsville Village Association, discovered the fee, which starts at $108 and was approved by city council in 2015, while fighting for improvements to the intersection of Carp and Hazeldean roads.
A crash there last week renewed calls for improvements to the intersection, which has a hill on the north side and a sharp curve on the south side, making it difficult for drivers turning left to see who is coming.
Therrien said she has been lobbying for improvements for years.
"It's only a matter of time before there's going to be a fatal accident there," Therrien said.
Stittsville Coun. Shad Qadri commissioned a traffic study of the intersection this year in response to a public outcry, but it found there wasn't enough traffic or collisions to warrant improvements.
Therrien said she couldn't believe it.
"I totally disagree with what they're coming back with," she said. "I would definitely like to see those numbers."
But Therrien later found out she would have to pay $108 to see the collision statistics for herself.
New fee came into effect last year
The city charges $108 for statistics for up to five locations, and another $108 for each additional location. That means a group looking to improve safety at 10 trouble spot would be looking at a bill of $648.
In an emailed statement, a city spokesperson said council approved the fee to recover the cost incurred by staff who spend time looking up the information.
The city does post an annual report online, summarizing the city's traffic statistics for the year. The most recent summary posted to date is from 2015.
Therrien said Stittsville is growing so fast, those numbers are outdated.
Residents want to be informed
Glen Gower, a former member of the Stittsville Village Association and author of the local news blog Stittsville Central, requested the collision data but found the price tag too steep.
He said the information is public, and the city should not be charging for it.
"A key part of the conversation, to be able to make a really informed case as residents, would be to know how many accidents are happening here and how does that compare to other really bad spots in the city," Gower said.
The city also charges media the same rates for collision statistics, but at least one other city does not. CBC News requested similar data from Edmonton, a city of a similar size to Ottawa, and received the numbers for free by the end of the day.
- A previous version of the story quoting erroneous information from the City of Ottawa stated the fee was approved by council in 2016. In fact it was approved in 2015 and came into effect in 2016.Oct 03, 2017 4:51 PM ET