Photo radar and citizen-guided traffic could be on their way to Toronto

Mayor John Tory met with Premier Wynne Monday morning at Queen's Park. The two discussed police budget, police modernization, affordable housing and transit options for Toronto.

John Tory says technology can be used efficiently to replace police officers in certain situations

Toronto Mayor John Tory and Premier Kathleen Wynne met Monday to discuss budgeting, affordable housing, transit and police modernization. (MIke Crawley/CBC)

Toronto Mayor John Tory will formally request more "legislative freedom" from the provincial government to modernize policing and address police budgetary concerns, he said following his meeting with Premier Wynne Monday morning. 

The mayor said he will be asking the premier to give the city "broader latitude than we have today to use technology" to manage traffic and free up uniformed police officers to focus on other policing work.

Those reforms would include bringing photo-radar back to the city and having civilians guide traffic in certain areas, such as school and other pedestrian-heavy zones; measures not currently possible under the Highway Traffic Act.

"A lot of citizens ask themselves if the best use of police officers is to direct traffic," Tory said. "The answer is, 'No, it's not.'"

Wynne would not commit to implementing photo radar across the province and said the government will consider the measures by request on a city-by-city basis.

A political football

Photo radar, first introduced in Ontario by former NDP premier Bob Rae, has long been a political football at Queen's Park. Scrapped just 11 months later by Rae's Progressive Conservative successor, Mike Harris, the measure remains a contentious one.

"I think everybody to some degree might go over the speed limit. That doesn't mean everybody should start getting ticketed," driver David Campbell told CBC News.

Others support the use of the technology. "At least maybe this stops people from speeding and killing people," said Mary Mollei, who no longer does much driving in the city.

Wynne said she and Tory had a very "fruitful" conversation Monday, in which the two discussed affordable housing and transit, including SmartTrack and improved transit connections between Toronto and Kitchener-Waterloo.

The premier did not speak in detail about the provincial budget — which Finance Minister Charles Sousa will deliver on Thursday — though she did say affordable housing in Toronto would be part of it. 

The city's police budget topped one billion dollars for the first time this year.

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