Employees in city vehicles caught speeding, red-light cameras should pay fines: mayor

Ottawa’s mayor said employees convicted of running a red light or speeding while using city-owned vehicles should be responsible for the cost of tickets — which they are currently not responsible for.

“If we can identify them as being in that vehicle at the time, that’s the fine that should be paid, not the ratepayers,” Mayor Jim Watson said.

“This is a basic responsibility for employees,” echoed Riley Brockington, the River ward councilor and wide area photo radar advocate.

Watson and Brockington’s comments came in the wake of recent Freedom of Information requests to the city from the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

According to the findings, the city issued a total of more than 200,000 automated tickets for speeding near schools and running red lights from the start of 2019 to September 27, 2021.

The automated speed control program started in July 2020.

Of that total, 989 were issued to city-owned vehicles, although the vast majority were used by emergency vehicles such as paramedics, police and firefighters, who are exempt from the charge. fines.

Of the 989 tickets, 622 were red light tickets and 287 were automated speeding tickets, while the other 80 were for transit services for which the city did not have an outage.

Below is a department-by-department breakdown of tickets issued to city vehicles, which the federation says were provided by the city.

Jay Goldberg, the federation’s Ontario director, said not requiring employees to pay fines is unfair and creates a two-tier system.

“You can’t just have a group of people working for any kind of municipal service who don’t have to obey the law and know that if they run a red light, they don’t have to pay anything. ‘fine,’ Goldberg said.

“If you’re going to have photo radar, you [have] go until the end.”

“It’s taxpayers’ money”, says the mayor

In an emailed statement to CBC News, city attorney David White said the charges under the red light camera and photo radar provisions of the Highway Traffic Act are liability offenses of the owner, “so that the City of Ottawa, as the owner of the vehicle, is legally responsible for payment of the fine.”

“As a result, the city is not requiring drivers to pay these fines, which is also consistent with the provisions of the Employment Standards Act prohibiting deductions from wages.”

At an unrelated event on Tuesday, Watson said he would ask staff to look for ways to possibly recoup the costs.

“At the end of the day, it’s taxpayers’ money and individuals are paid by the taxpayer,” Watson added. “They should obey the law, and if they don’t, they should be penalized.”

CUPE Local 503, the city’s largest union, declined to comment.

Launch of a new “Fleet Safety Program”

White said the city treats red-light camera or speeding violations as disciplinary matters “in accordance with the applicable labor agreement or contract and its disciplinary policy.”

Under a “Fleet Safety Program” launched earlier this month, drivers of City of Ottawa vehicles receive an Authorization to Operate (ATO), which uses a system similar to points of provincial demerit “based on unsafe actions, conditions or collisions, including violations resulting from speeding and failing to obey a stop sign,” White said.

This could involve measures “up to and including” the suspension of an ATO, he added.

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