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Council re-examining red-light-camera program

Red River Ward Councillor Michael Zussino brought the idea forward four years after the previous council voted against joining the dozen communities participating in Ontario’s red-light-camera program, despite the recommendation from city staff to join.
red light camera

THUNDER BAY -- Thunder Bay will once again look at the cost and logistics of implementing a red-light-camera program.

Red River Councillor Michael Zussino received unanimous support Monday for his motion to send city staff away to examine the options available to get the initiative off the ground, which includes capital engineering professional fees, studies and miscellaneous funds that will be expended to update the 2021 red light camera study.

“I think the biggest trepidation before was the cost,” Zussino said following Monday's council meeting.

“So, if you have another source who can provide this service for a less cost or no cost, I think that's a win. I think safety is paramount in this situation here, so if we can have safer roads, then I think it's a win for everybody.”

The decision was made in June of 2021 by a majority of councillors to not join the dozen communities participating in Ontario’s red light camera program, despite the recommendation from city staff to join.

Council was wary of the five-year, 10-camera commitment the provincial program requires, as well as its estimated $875,000 yearly cost.

Zussino admits that he didn’t consider the past decision before bringing this back to the council table.

“There's now five new people and maybe the tone has changed. So, you've got to at least see what the vibe is in the room and proceed from there,” added Zussino.

Introduced in 1998, the program uses sensors to automatically capture images of drivers who run red lights. Tickets, which run to $325, are processed in Toronto and mailed to the registered owner of the vehicle, with municipalities netting the bulk of the revenue.

Current River Councillor Andrew Foulds called the 2021 decision a “big mistake,” but he understands the trepidation about financial implications.

“The idea of making money is nice, but the idea is actually about safety. So, let's not lose sight of what the purpose is - reducing accidents to save lives,” Foulds said.

McIntyre Councillor Albert Aiello defended the decision made three years ago, noting “We were presented with really one option and one option only, and it was a very expensive option.

"There's actually some significant risk to taxpayers having to cover the cost if insufficient revenues are raised. I'm supportive of this just because it seems that there's possible other options out there that should be explored.”

Administration has been tasked with reporting back to council by October 28th.


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