Photo Radar Returning to Ontario

An announcement today by Premier Kathleen Wynne means that photo radar could be coming back to Ontario roads. For now, however, it would only be used in school zones and areas like around parks and hospitals.

The massively unpopular photo radar vans were last used on provincial highways in 1995, and getting rid of it was then a major campaign issue. Today's announcement was made in Ottawa, where Mayor Jim Watson was formerly against the system as being a potential cash grab. Watson changed his support, and in May the city formally requested the right to install the radar cameras where safety was of special concern.

The proposed new legislation would let municipalities lower the default speed limit from 50 km/h to 30 or 40 in certain areas. It would also let them choose the areas where the limits would change. That could let cities and towns impose a blanket 30 km/h limit, or lower it only for school zones or other areas of concern.

Another part of the legislation would allow fast-tracking of new red-light cameras, allowing cities and towns to bypass the current lengthy regulatory approval process.

The camera issue is a political hot potato and contributed to an election loss for NDP party that introduced it in 1994. With that in mind, Wynne had previously said that "From my perspective this needs to be something that comes from municipalities as a request," and had denied a request from the city of Ottawa last year. In addition to the city of Ottawa making the request again, Toronto Mayor John Tory made the same request of the premier back in February, and Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger had made the request in January of this year.

Don't worry about the cameras popping up overnight, though, as the legislation could take months to get approval. After that, it will be up to individual cities and towns to decide what, if anything, they want to do with the new powers.

New legislation would allow municipalities to install the cameras 11/8/2016 4:12:50 PM