Committee votes in favour of community safety zone pilot, including photo radar
2 cameras will rotate through 12 zones as part of the pilot project
Hamilton's public works committee has voted in favour of a one-year pilot projects that will see two photo radar cameras rotate through 12 school and community safety zones across the city.
The automated speed enforcement (ASE) program will operate similarly to red light cameras said Edward Soldo, director of transportation operations for the city, with tickets being issued to vehicles, not drivers.
However, there is one significant difference — the fines for speeding and careless driving handed out in the zones are doubled.
Ward 12 Coun. Lloyd Ferguson said he was concerned about the cameras coming off as a "cash grab" and asked if they'd be triggered by someone going just one kilometre over the speed limit.
Soldo said those details have not been finalized, but said Toronto has been taking a zero-tolerance approach and Hamilton is expecting to follow its lead.
"Speeding is speeding. It you're going over the speed limit you potentially will be ticketed in that location," he explained.
"There's no purpose of setting a speed limit of 40 if you're going to allow people to go through those locations at 50."
The director later added the program is so new it's unclear how much money it will bring in for the city, but said it's not expected to be a "financially positive initiative"
"I think it's important to note this is not about generating revenue," said Ward 8 Coun. John-Paul Danko. "It's about community safety on our roads."
Councillors say hot spots missed
Some councillors, including Ward 3's Nrinder Nann and Ward 5's Chad Collins, expressed confusion about the broader list of 75 roads identified for the program, arguing it missed some of the worst hot spots for speeding and stunt driving.
Nann pointed to Main Street and King, while Collins said Nash Road and the Beach Strip in his own ward are "prone to chronic speeding."
Soldo said the locations are based on factors such as vehicle speeds and collision history. He noted the COVID-19 pandemic kept his staff to monitoring some locations, but once traffic patterns are back to normal crews will continue to reevaluate their list on an annual basis.
That concern was partly behind an amendment put forward by Ward 6 Coun. Tom Jackson that staff report back by the fourth quarter of this year with a new list of ASE locations that includes consultation with councillors about areas of concern.
Zones have an 'umbrella effect'
Before cameras are put in place signs announcing their arrival must be displayed in the area for 90 days.
Soldo said simply knowing community safety zones are out there should improve road safety, even if a camera isn't in place.
"There is anticipation there is an umbrella effect across the city," he explained. "If you're aware there's automated speed enforcement in certain areas you're going to be a little more aware of how you're driving and the speed you're driving."