Some red light cameras will do double-duty as speeder catchers. (Contributed)

B.C. cities brace for possible drop in traffic fine revenue

Province wants to discuss revenue-sharing agreement as traffic enforcement expected to improve

The province and the Union of B.C. Municipalities are set to discuss how they will share the increased fine revenue set to come in from upgrades to red-light cameras and electronic ticketing.

Surrey Coun. Bruce Hayne, who sits on the UBCM executive, said the province told the organization it was looking to amend how the revenues are shared, aiming to have a new agreement signed by the end of spring.

In its letter dated Wednesday, Municipal Affairs Selina Robinson cited the “ongoing expansion of automated traffic enforcement,” including the new red-light cameras used to catch speeders.

Announced in March, the “intersection camera system” will be able to issue speeding tickets automatically, as well as tickets for running a red light.

READ: B.C. upgrades red light cameras to catch speeders

Additional, police in Vancouver and Delta have been testing out new electronic tickets in the past couple of months that allow them to simply swipe a driver’s licence to log all of the information.

Currently, the province collects the fines and redistributes between $50-60 million to municipalities of more than 5,000 people. That amounts to the net revenue, minus any administrative costs. Smaller cities get a refund through a reduction in the police tax.

“Municipalities don’t have much in the way of tools to negotiate,” Hayne said. “I guess what I’m saying is that at the end of the day the province will tell us what the deal will be.”

He did say the NDP government has been “very collaborative” so far, and hoped the outcome won’t cut into one of the few revenue sources cities have. Currently, most of the money cities are able to raise come from property taxes.

Raising those is never popular, he said, but municipalities could be forced to do so if traffic fine revenue drops.

“We know that policing costs are going up on a yearly basis,” Hayne said.

“All of the protective services for anything to do with cannabis legalization?” he added. “That’s going to fall on local government.”


@katslepian

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