Montreal expects to pay police at least $12M to direct traffic this year
Bill has tripled, increasing from $4M in 2014 to $8M last year
In three years, the cost of using police to manage traffic at Montreal's construction sites has tripled.
The bill increased from $4 million in 2014 to $8 million last year and will cost more than $12 million this year, according to projections from the city's finance department, made public Wednesday.
Why so much more money? Because there are more work sites and police are paid overtime to direct traffic, a stipulation of their collective agreement.
Montreal police officers are paid about $60 an hour for the work.
Alex Norris, vice-president of the city's public security commission, says the city should use civilians to manage traffic, as Transports Québec already does.
The City of Vancouver uses a mix of civilian and police officers to direct traffic.
Depending on the complexity of the situation, the city would pay a civilian as low as $35 per hour while a police constable can make up to $125 per hour in overtime.
Montrealer Scott Brophey told CBC News that seeing five officers directing traffic at the light in front of McGill's Roddick Gates was "insane."
"As a taxpayer, I don't approve of it," he said. "They should probably have one officer, maybe use cadets, city employees, that's my opinion."
Obey the signs, officer says
Insp. André Durocher of the Montreal police traffic safety division said a good way to reduce costs would be citizen cooperation.
"It is not uncommon to station police at certain intersections because people don't follow signs. They will drive through red lights. So because of that, we use police officers to ensure safety," he said.
In August, Anie Samson, the executive committee member responsible for public security, said the city is looking into changing the way traffic management is done, but can't make any changes for now because it is bound by the collective agreement.
Late last year, Montreal's police chief Philippe Pichet said having police officers directing traffic at roadwork sites isn't always necessary and can be a waste of money and resources.
Durocher said he didn't want to comment on ongoing negotiations, as police have been without a contract for the last two years.
In an email, the police brotherhood union said that the task of directing traffic "is reserved for police officers under the collective agreement."
They declined to comment further on the cost of having officers do the job at a rate of $60 per hour.
with files from Radio-Canada's René Saint-Louis