Ottawa's red light cameras to set sights on Quebec drivers

Quebec drivers, long immune to the roadside justice dealt by Ottawa's red light cameras, could soon feel their pricey sting — and the city's coffers could swell considerably as a result.

City missing out on millions in fines because it can't ticket out-of-province motorists

Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson poses beside the city's newest red light camera on Tuesday, May 22, 2018. (Matthew Kupfer/CBC)

Quebec drivers, long immune to the roadside justice dealt by Ottawa's red light cameras, could soon feel their pricey sting — and the city's coffers could swell considerably as a result.

We wanted to make sure that those people understand there are consequences if you come and drive through ... a red light and potentially cause death or injury.- Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson

According to a memo from John Manconi, Ottawa's general manager of transportation services, the city has finally struck a deal that would let it fine drivers from Quebec caught running red lights.

Given its location on a provincial border and the number of Quebec residents who work and do business in Ottawa, the city has long had its eye on ticketing out-of-province drivers.

In 2016, when the Ontario government changed its rules to allow interprovincial ticketing, city officials estimated such a change could pull in an extra $500,000 dollars per year in fines. 

The fine for running a red light is $260 plus a $60 victim surcharge and $5 service fee, according to the city.

Large number of drivers from Quebec

The city said it issued approximately 24,000 violations from red light cameras last year, but missed out on about 4,800 fines for out-of-province drivers — 4,500 of whom were from Quebec.

The agreement, reached between the city and the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators (CCMTA) in late April, gives Ottawa access to records of drivers from Quebec, Saskatchewan and Yukon.

"The one that was important to us was Quebec, because we're a border community," Mayor Jim Watson said.

"We wanted to make sure that those people understand there are consequences if you come and drive through and cut through a red light and potentially cause death or injury."

No retroactive fines

Coun. Keith Egli, chair of the transportation committee, said there will be no retroactive enforcement based on the deal.

Other provinces have refused to share their data, and Newfoundland and Labrador hasn't responded to the council's request.

Before the city can start collecting the out-of-province revenue, it needs to finalize a few technical aspects of the agreement and test the system, Manconi said.

He said offenders from Quebec should start receiving tickets in late June, barring any setbacks.

On Tuesday afternoon Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson unveiled the city's latest red light camera, its 54th.