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Province to target non-resident red light runners

Jon Willing, Multimedia Journalist
Ottawa Sun

By Jon Willing, Ottawa Sun

Legislation will be introduced this week that would put an end to Quebec motorists blasting through Ottawa intersections without receiving red light camera tickets.

Ontario Transportation Minister Glen Murray announced Monday the government will help cities go after out-of-province motorists who break traffic laws, and collect other unpaid fines.

“The Association of Municipalities of Ontario and municipalities have long been asking for this,” Murray said at Ottawa City Hall. “It is $100 million a year in lost revenue to municipalities, which could be going into our police and into our paramedic services and into those critical first responders who have to deal with the consequences of people driving improperly and speeding.”

Ottawa-Centre MPP Yasir Naqvi has been pushing for the legislation and city council has demanded changes to help ticket drivers from across the Ottawa River.

Quebec-plated vehicles have been skirting red light camera tickets because of provincial restrictions.

Up until now, police or bylaw officers would have to go to court to testify on those tickets, where tickets for Ontario motorists are expedited through the courts.

The proposed legislation will apply the “streamlined” system to the out-of-province tickets, Naqvi said.

“We had a system in place where we treated our residents in Ottawa differently than those who don’t live in Ottawa,” Naqvi said.

Between 2010 and 2011 there were more than 4,000 incidents of potential red light running by non-Ontario vehicles captured by cameras in Ottawa. The city didn’t collect any of those fines.

Ottawa West-Nepean MPP Bob Chiarelli, the former transportation minister and now energy minister, indicated last October the province would introduce legislation.

Mayor Jim Watson and councillors applauded the changes, which will pour more cash into city coffers.

“This is not simply about getting more money for the municipality. This is primarily about public safety,” Watson said.

The province is also cracking down on all motorists who have outstanding traffic fines, like speeding tickets.

Under the proposed legislation, drivers with unpaid fines won’t be able to receive new plates or renew existing ones.

There are about $1 billion in unpaid fines from Highway Traffic Act and other road-related laws.

According to Watson, the City of Ottawa has on record $56 million in fines that date back to 1970.

The province is making a $4-million upgrade to its tracking system, Murray said.

Murray said with a seven-year retroactive collection, the recovery for municipalities could go up to $350 million.

jon.willing@sunmedia.ca

Twitter: @JonathanWilling

 


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