Ottawa’s photo radar revenue surges



Ottawa is facing a problem with the increasing number of speeding tickets being issued by photo radar cameras. The city has decided to invest over $2 million in a new processing centre to manage the surge in tickets. The installation of 23 new photo radar cameras this year has doubled the number of cameras in Ottawa. However, the Toronto processing centre that receives the tickets will not be able to process most of them. According to a city staff report, the only solution is for Ottawa to build its own processing center. This move is expected to result in more than $58 million in revenue from photo radar tickets next year.

Chair of the city’s transportation committee, Coun. Tim Tierney, stated that the revenue generated from photo radar tickets will go directly into road safety rather than into the general coffers.

Toronto Centre Can’t Handle Ticket Load

At present, all photo radar speeding tickets issued in Ottawa are processed at a joint processing centre in Toronto, which is dealing with an increased load from across the province. Ottawa tickets must be processed within 23 days, but in 2022, only two-thirds of the photo radar tickets were processed within the time limit. The Toronto centre has capped the number of Ottawa tickets it will process at 250,000 for this year. This will result in the city of Ottawa losing millions of dollars in revenue, as 370,000 infractions will not be processed.

The proposal is to spend $2.4 million in establishing a local processing centre in Ottawa to deal with the tickets. This will require hiring 30 full-time positions, including a program manager, clerk, analyst, three supervisors, and 24 provincial offence officers. The processing centre will take up about 30,000 square feet in a city administrative building. The centre will need to be retrofitted and operational by 2024 when another 20 speed cameras will be installed.

Without the new processing centre, the gross revenue generated from photo radar tickets would be limited to $16.3 million by 2024. However, with the new centre, the city projects a whopping $66.3 million in gross revenue from photo radar speeding tickets in 2024. The net cost of processing the tickets would be over $8 million, resulting in a revenue of over $58 million.

Mixed Reactions from Residents

Residents have mixed reactions to the increasing number of speed cameras in Ottawa. Some residents believe that the cameras work somewhat but want to see more enforcement. Others believe that more revenue from the cameras should go toward more traffic calming measures.

Processing tickets is cumbersome, and a bonded member of Toronto’s processing centre has to drive to Ottawa to retrieve the chips from the cameras. Then, they put them in a locked vault and drive them back to Toronto for processing.

The city’s transportation committee will discuss the plan to build a new processing centre in Ottawa at its next meeting.

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