A red light camera sign warns drivers of the camera at Gordon Drive and Harvey Avenue. - Credit: Carli Berry/Capital News

Kelowna photo radar upgrades to be implemented

The province will be upgrading red light cameras in the city

Say cheese. Five crash-plagued intersections in Kelowna are going to be equipped with cameras able to take pictures of vehicles that speed through intersections while the light is still green.

Existing red-light cameras are being upgraded at Highway 97 where it intersects with Gordon Drive, Spall Road, Cooper Road and Banks Road, in addition to the intersection of Springfield Road and Dilworth Drive.

The province will spend the next several months analyzing crash and speed data at the intersections where it has red light cameras before deciding which ones to equip with vehicle identifying equipment.

According to the province, the move isn’t setting the stage for the photo radar — it’s something more transparent.

To make the change Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said the intersection camera system will be able to issue speeding tickets as well as those for running a red light. A threshold of excessive speeding will be chosen to trigger the additional ticket, he said.

“We know that’s where the worst accidents happen, at intersections. That’s where pedestrians get hit far too often.”

The photo radar program ended in 2001 and the province said that the unmarked vans, staffed with two police officers each, issued speeding tickets at “low speeding thresholds” and used up too many police resources.

Residents of Kelowna also weighed into the debate on whether the camera upgrades would alleviate accidents at problematic intersections.

One resident, who asked not to be named, said the upgrades were a waste of money.

Another had problems with the lights’ timing.

“The biggest problem I have with it, is firstly the light system here is awful, they’re timed so poorly. You’re going to have people speeding to make sure they get the light (and the camera will pick up on that,)” said Carl Arnett.

But others thought the system would incentivize drivers to stop speeding.

“I think it’ll help people slow down,” said Brooke Foster, who commutes from Lake Country to West Kelowna daily. “I drive home every night at 6 p.m. and I see people run red lights from Kelowna to Lake Country, (it’s) get home so they speed through lights.”

“I’m for it, abide by the rules right?” said Jamie Sutherland.

By the numbers

  • Harvey Avenue at Gordon Drive, from 2009 -2013 the average number of crashes has amounted to 51 and an average of 27 resulted in injuries.
  • Dilworth Drive at Springfield Road, from 2009 -2013 the intersection has seen an average of 67 crashes per year, an average of 32 resulted in an injury.
  • Harvey Avenue at Spall Road, from 2009 -2013 there are an average of 92 crashes per year and, on average, 41 result in injuries.
  • Harvey Avenue at Cooper Road there have been an average of 70 crashes per year, with an average of 34 each year resulting in injury.
  • Highway 97 North at Banks Road had an average of 64 crashes a year, resulting in an average of 31 injuries.

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