British Columbia

Cameras proposed to stop speeding on notorious Malahat

A conversation with the Malahat fire chief, who responded to many serious crashes on the narrow stretch of highway, prompted Saanich Coun. Colin Plant to push for interval-based speed cameras.

Interval cameras were previously rejected by B.C. government

Serious crashes continue to shut down the Malahat for hours at a time. This multiple vehicle accident claimed one life in November 2015. (John Rozehnal)

More than 15 years after the B.C. photo radar program was scrapped, the Capital Regional District is looking at a proposal for new cameras to catch speeders on the notorious Malahat highway outside Victoria. 

Saanich Coun. Colin Plant is hoping the CRD and neighbouring Cowichan Valley Regional District will team up to ask the B.C. government to install speed cameras on the twisty mountain road on a trial basis.

Plant said that unlike the politically unpopular photo radar, which was scrapped by the B.C. Liberal government in 2001, interval-based speed enforcement cameras are in permanent locations and well marked.

Vehicle licence plates are photographed at different locations along a route.

"If you have gone through there at a rate that is above the speed limit would get a ticket," Plant said in an interview with On The Island's Khalil Akhtar. 

Saanich Coun. Colin Plant believes interval cameras can reduce speeding and accidents on the treacherous Malahat highway outside Victoria. (Madeline Green/CBC)

The goal is not to give tickets or collect fines, Plant said. 

"If this is a tool that costs some money to make people stop speeding, and then it doesn't give out any tickets, then we'll also probably be dealing with less accidents, with less claims and less tragedies for families."

Plant was impressed by interval cameras used by the City of Edmonton, which he saw while attending a conference there last year, along with former Malahat fire chief Rob Patterson.

Malahat Fire Chief Rob Patterson died suddenly on Jan. 2 (Twitter)

Patterson's recent death reminded Plant of a conversation at the Edmonton conference.

The fire chief told him his view that recent safety improvements to the highway wouldn't stop the accidents because bad driving was largely to blame.

"He talked about how that highway was just not safe and how people were driving in in an unreasonable way," Plant said.

In 2012, Shirley Bond, then B.C.'s justice minister, rejected the idea of interval cameras on the Malahat in an interview with On the Island host Gregor Craigie. She was responding to a call by NDP MLA John Horgan to introduce the technology to reduce accidents and deaths.

Chris Foord, the vice chair of the CRD Traffic Safety Commission, said interval-based speed enforcement cameras are a world away from the low-tech photo radar vans in force from 1996 to 2001. 

At that time, he said, officers had to retrieve the film from the photo radar cameras. 

Foord said the Coquihalla Connector would be another ideal location for the interval cameras. 

The Capital Regional District is expected to vote on the interval camera proposal July 12.