Is photo radar making a comeback?

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While Ontario drivers can breath a little easier, speeders in Saskatchewan and some other provinces should ease up on the gas.

Ontario drivers caught a break this week when the provincial transportation minister quickly slammed the brakes on a proposed revival of photo radar.

York region councillors voted to pitch the province on the system that takes snapshots of speeders’ licence plates and mails them a ticket. But Transportation Minister Steve Del Duca rejected the idea before even hearing an official proposal.

“The province doesn’t have an interest in returning to photo radar,” he said.

The highly successful, but widely hated enforcement system enjoyed a brief career and mostly unlamented death in Ontario in the mid-1990s. Implemented by Bob Rae’s NDP government, it lasted just 11 months before being scrapped by the newly-elected Conservatives, who campaigned on its elimination.

It netted $19 million during that short time, but was derided as a cash grab that did little to calm traffic, because it only caught a speeder well after the fact.

Meanwhile, Saskatchewan is just now being introduced to the joys of photo radar.

A two-year pilot project began in December, but speedsters were just getting warning letters instead of actual tickets. That grace period ended last weekend. Drivers will soon see tickets starting at $110 arriving in the mail. Penalties go as high as $190 in a school zone, plus $2 for every kilometre over the posted limit.

In December and January, cameras caught over 37,000 speeding incidents. Looks like the money will start rolling in.

The province already had photo radar at road construction, but that’s been problematic. Last April, a judge dismissed five cases against apparent speeders based on poor-quality photos and other complaints.

Photo radar is currently used in Quebec and parts of Alberta, and other provinces have discussed implementing or reviving it, including British Columbia and Newfoundland and Labrador.

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