April 26, 2022
Municipal government workers in Ottawa are not required to pay for tickets issued by the city’s new photo radar system.
“If the city isn’t going to make its employees pay the tickets, it should just scrap photo radar,” said Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) Ontario Director Jay Goldberg in a Tuesday blog post.
“This makes it look like photo radar is more about money than safety for the city, and taxpayers are already paying enough.”
Records obtained by the CTF through access to information and privacy requests reveal 989 photo radar and red-light camera tickets were given out to City of Ottawa vehicles from January 2019 to August 2021.
The blog post said that at least 159 of these tickets were for vehicles in the city fleet, aside from those used by police, transit services, and paramedics. The combined cost, said the post, was a little more than $37,000.
“Charges laid under the red-light camera and/or photo radar provisions of the Highway Traffic Act are owner liability offences, with the result being the City of Ottawa, as owner of the vehicle, is legally responsible for payment of the fine,” City of Ottawa solicitor David White told the CTF.
“As a result, the city does not require drivers to pay those fines.”
White said tickets are handled as disciplinary matters and that none of them involve employees paying their fines.
Toronto pays for its city employees’ tickets and tries to recuperate the costs after. Records obtained by the CTF show that Edmonton makes its government workers pay.
Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson said in March that the city lost $1.1 million in revenue throughout 2021 because of photo radar tickets being mailed late.
“Not only do current photo radar policies create a two-tier system, but the photo radars in general are just government cash cows,” said Goldberg. “If Ottawa was actually using photo radar to promote public safety, every government employee who gets a ticket would be forced to pay it out of pocket.”