Thunder Bay

Thunder Bay council looks at bringing red light cameras to four intersections

Thunder Bay City Council voted to ask staff on Monday night to explore the possibility of bringing red light cameras to Thunder Bay. 

Council has asked city staff to also research countdown timers as an alternative

City councillors in Thunder Bay voted Monday night to investigate which intersections would be best suited for red light cameras. (Heather Kitching/CBC)

Thunder Bay City Council voted to ask staff on Monday night to explore the possibility of bringing red light cameras to the city.

Red light cameras are connected to city traffic lights and use sensors to detect approaching vehicles, according to a report to council from the city's infrastructure and operations division. When a light turns red, a vehicle travelling over the sensor or above a certain speed will trigger the camera.  A ticket can then be issued to the vehicle owner.

The ticket is issued to the owner, regardless of whether or not the owner was also the driver, so there are no demerit points attached to the conviction, the report explained. 

The fine for failing to stop at a red light is $260 plus a $60 victim fine surcharge, along with a $5 court fee.  

The city anticipates starting with four red light cameras, traffic technologist David Binch told council at Monday's meeting.

"The municipal court has communicated to us that they don't want to be overwhelmed with traffic fines of this nature, so they are asking that we start with a reasonable number to see if they can keep up with the demand," he said. 

Twenty-six per cent of fatal collisions at municipal intersections with traffic signals are caused by drivers running red lights, according to 2016 provincial data included in the report from administration.

An evaluation carried out between 2000 and 2004 found that cameras successfully reduced right-angle collisions by 25 per cent, the report stated. Those are the most serious type of collision seen at municipal intersections, although much less severe rear-end collisions did initially increase in some jurisdictions. 

Eight municipalities in Ontario - Toronto, Hamilton, Ottawa, London, Peel Region, Waterloo Region, Halton Region, and York Region - currently use red light cameras in their jurisdictions.

The cost of studying possible locations in Thunder Bay for the cameras and preparing a business plan for them would be covered by the engineering department's existing budget. 

Council also asked city staff to provide information on using count-down timers, which let drivers know how much time they have left to clear an intersection, as an alternative to red light cameras.  

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