West Kelowna council would like to see a return of photo radar to deter speeders.—Image credit: Black Press

West Kelowna council wants photo radar back

Controversial anti-speeding tool scrapped by B.C. Liberals in 2001

Some West Kelowna councillors, and the city’s top bureaucrat, may like the idea of bringing back photo radar. But Mayor Doug Findlater doesn’t see that happening—at least not in the short-term.

“Maybe in the long term, but good luck getting photo radar through with a minority (provincial) government, and that’s what we’re going to have for at least the next couple of years,” said Findlater when the issue came up during a council discussion about traffic calming measures in the city earlier this week.

Council was told by staff traffic-calming has not worked in many areas where efforts such as roundabouts, speed bumps and signage have been installed.

And that’s when the conversation turned to a return of photo radar in B.C., a then widely unpopular enforcement tool amongst the public that was dumped by the B.C Liberal government when it came to power in 2001.

Coun. Rick De Jong said he’s not a fan of speed bumps, speed reader-boards and other non-punitive measures aimed at slowing drivers down.

“What we have is people with lead feet,” said De Jong.

“I’m not a big fan of traffic calming. What does work is issuing speeding tickets, hitting them in the pocketbook.”

De Jong and several other councillors, as well as city administrator Jim Zaffino, said they would welcome back photo radar.

Zaffino said he is such a fan, he has been talking to the local RCMP and provincial officials on his own time about a possible return of the controversial measure.

In the past, boxes to house cameras that took pictures of speeding vehicles were installed in municipalities. Not all boxes had a camera in them at all times, but the threat that they did was enough to slow down some drivers.

If you were caught speeding on camera, you received a ticket in the mail.

The former NDP government brought in photo radar and the Liberals vowed to scrap it if they were elected in 2001.

Other West Kelowna councillors also expressed a desire to see photo radar return.

Coun. Duan Ophus said he used to oppose it but now feels its return is warranted, calling it an inexpensive but effective way to slow down drivers in the city.

Council plans to send a late resolution to the Union of B.C. Municipalities in hopes it can be debated at the September UBCM convention and a request to the province supported.

Meanwhile, West Kelowna has spent $600,000 on traffic-calming measures in neighbourhoods where speeding has been a problem, said staff. But, the report said, the measures have been largely ineffective.