Speed cameras — but not photo radar — should be studied as a way to help stop dangerous driving on the Malahat, says NDP incumbent John Horgan.
If re-elected in the Juan de Fuca riding, Horgan said he would push for a feasibility study of “fixed cameras or speed monitoring measuring tools” that could be run by police officers in high-risk parts of the Malahat where it’s too narrow to use traditional radar.
“I would support law enforcement, and they asked for a feasibility study,” Horgan said.
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But when Horgan says speed cameras, he doesn’t mean photo radar, the controversial system introduced by the NDP in the 1990s and cancelled by the Liberals in 2001 as an unfair “cash grab.”
That program involved unmarked police vans that were strategically parked on B.C. highways and took photos of speeding cars. Tickets were mailed to drivers months later.
Though Horgan said in 2010 that he supported photo radar because it saved lives, he now says he would prefer the speed cameras.
“I do not support returning to the photo radar of the past,” he said.
One of the key differences is that the speed cameras would be watched by police, and offending drivers would be pulled over and issued tickets within minutes, Horgan said. That kind of immediate consequence can alter driver behaviour, he said.
“In that sense, it’s not even remotely similar to the photo radar of the past,” he said.
“It’s quite different as a tool that’s real-time. If you break the law at 2:15 p.m. at the top of the Malahat, at 2:20 p.m. there’s going to be a law-enforcement officer pulling you over.”
Horgan’s B.C. Liberal challenger in the riding, Kerrie Reay, did not return a call for comment on Thursday.
The capital region’s Integrated Road Safety Unit, made up of RCMP and municipal police, recommended in 2012 that a dedicated Malahat enforcement team be created.
That was after a successful summer campaign had reduced serious crashes and fatalities.
The RCMP and provincial government refused to fund the unit.
An NDP government wouldn’t have the money for dedicated Malahat police either, Horgan said.
“It’s not part of the platform,” he said. “So there’s no new dollars for that.”
No love for photo radar across political spectrum
None of the party leaders supported the old photo radar system when the topic came up during the televised leaders debate this week.
“The NDP brought it in, it was a mistake, it was a tax grab for the government, and I will not bring it back,” said Liberal leader Christy Clark.
Conservative leader John Cummins dismissed it as a revenue source for government, while Green party leader Jane Sterk said more police would reduce speeding.
NDP leader Adrian Dix said he would focus on red-light cameras.
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