Hamilton

Merulla wants to make Linc, Red Hill 'community safety zones' to take advantage of photo radar

Premier Kathleen Wynne said she wants to allow photo radar in school and community safety zones. Merulla said the Red Hill and Linc parkways should be allowed to use the tool.

Premier Kathleen Wynne said she wants to allow photo radar in school and community safety zones

Ten collisions were reported to police on the Red Hill Valley Parkway on Saturday. (Bob Hatcher)

​City councillor Sam Merulla said he'll seek to declare Red Hill Valley and Lincoln M. Alexander parkways "community safety zones" to make them eligible for new provincial photo radar rules.

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne announced Tuesday her government will allow photo radar, but only  in school zones and "community safety zones" like streets near daycares and senior citizen residences, where speeders can expect significantly higher fines if they're caught.

Hamilton doesn't currently have any community safety zones. A 2001 report from city staff recommended against installing them.

But that's not stopping Merulla. The Ward 4 councillor said he'll push to have the 90-km/h parkways declared as community safety zones to be able to use photo radar there.

His rationale: School buses regularly use the Red Hill and the Linc, and thus should receive added safety measures to keep school kids safe.

"At the end of the day the only people who ever complained about photo radar are speeding," he said. "As long as we have the signage, it's not a gotcha scenario.

"People will know where these areas are and all they have to do is slow down." 

A political and controversial history

Photo radar, where a speeding car is photographed and the owner sent a photo and a ticket in the mail, has a political and controversial history in Ontario. Critics say it's a money grab by governments. Former premier Mike Harris campaigned on a promise to kill the program after it had been implemented in the mid-1990s.  

The city's traffic superintendent, David Ferguson, said staff will evaluate the pros and cons of photo radar and what its impact could be on the city's existing road safety efforts. But, Ferguson said, it will be some time before cities could actually use it. 

Merulla asked for a safety review of the two parkways last year after two 19-year-olds — Jordyn Hastings and Olivia Smosarski — died in a crash on the Red Hill in May 2015. They were in a Mazda that crossed a median and hit a van driven by a 28-year-old woman, who walked away with minor injuries.

In one day in October 2015, police dealt with 10 reported collisions on the Red Hill alone.

The city has told Ontario officials it wants to install photo radar on the parkways after a motion Merulla brought to that effect last year.