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Automated speed traps could be in Greater Sudbury as early as 2023

Monday’s City of Greater Sudbury operations committee was unanimous in urging city administration to press forward in pursuing automated speed enforcement cameras
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The stage has been set for a dozen automated speed enforcement cameras to be installed in Greater Sudbury as early as 2023. 

The city’s operations committee gave the proposal their unanimous support on Monday during a meeting in which several of the program’s ins and outs were hashed out.

Potential locations for these cameras have yet to be determined, but meeting chair and Ward 9 Coun. Deb McIntosh urged city administration to prioritize safety over revenue generation.

“I really hope that the warrants of determining where these cameras go will reflect that safety, where people are vulnerable to high-speed traffic,” she said. 

The devices would be similar to the six red light cameras still slated to be installed at busy city intersections, but would photograph speeders instead of those running red lights. 

In a report by Joe Rocca of the city’s Infrastructure Capital Planning department it’s noted that this project has been years in the making.

The provincial government began allowing municipalities to operate automated speed enforcement units in school and community safety zones a few years ago when they adopted Bill 65, the Safer School Zones Act.

The City of Greater Sudbury has been working on this file since 2017, when they were part of a working group established by the Ontario Traffic Council to look at the proposed legislation.

Some Ontario jurisdictions have already laid out some of the groundwork for this legislation by operating pilot programs during the past couple years within school zone locations.

A pilot project in Ottawa resulted in a 200-per-cent increase in speed limit compliance, while a project in Toronto recorded a 41-per-cent increase in speed limit compliance within 40 km/h zones and a 24-per-cent increase in speed limit compliance within 30 km/h zones. 

Even those exceeding the speed limits in both jurisdictions did so at lower average speeds when cameras were set up. 

“Speeding on roads continues to be the most frequent concern residents express to transportation and innovation support staff and the greatest contributing factor to the most serious collisions on our roads,” Rocca wrote.

Although the pilot projects centred on school zones, Rocca clarified that “most of the concerns raised with staff are not in school zones,” and that their site selection criteria will consider all areas of the municipality that may be designated as community safety zones.

Since traffic calming devices are a common request among residents, Ward 5 Coun. Robert Kirwan said he anticipates the speed traps will prove popular in neighbourhoods where drivers often speed.

The dozen automated speed camera units proposed would come at a total one-time cost of approximately $190,000 plus $1,705,000 per year in operating costs, of which a “significant percentage” would be offset through fines administered. 

At $40 for eight kilometres over the speed limit, this would require 42,625 infractions per year.

However, Rocca cautioned the committee that until they dig deeper into a site selection report it will be difficult to accurately estimate whether full cost recovery is realistic.

“What we’re not seeing yet from municipalities … is what long-standing impact are municipalities seeing in reduction in speed and overall cost of the program,” he said. 

“It is challenging to know exactly how people will change their behaviour and what that program will look like moving forward.”

Monday’s approval, which still needs to be ratified by city council as a whole, will be forwarded as a business case for 2023 budget deliberations. 

It typically takes municipalities between 12 and 18 months to enter into required agreements for the units, Rocca explained, which is why this is being considered so far in advance.

Provincial legislation requires that signs warning motorists about speed cameras must be installed at least 90 days before they come into operation, at which time an updated sign alerting drivers to their existence must be installed.

Meanwhile, the city’s six red light cameras are still expected to be installed, but have faced delays due to the complex set of agreements they require.

“We’re just working with the contractor to find a time that’s convenient for them to come to Sudbury to install the red light cameras,” city manager of growth and infrastructure Tony Cecutti told a finance committee last month, estimating at the time that they should be installed in the “next few months.”

Tyler Clarke covers city hall and political affairs for Sudbury.com.