Visitor accuses Edmonton of photo-radar double dipping

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Visitor accuses Edmonton of photo-radar double dipping

Early on a Sunday morning last May, Susan McNab was driving her daughter to a dance recital in west Edmonton.

The Calgary resident admits she was paying more attention to finding her destination than the speed she was travelling.

Two weeks later she got a pair of photo-radar tickets in the mail. At first McNab thought the city mistakenly sent her a duplicate ticket.

"And then when I saw the times that they were photographed — one was at 7:49:16 and the second was 7:49:26 — on the same road. And I thought, 'What? This can't be right.' "

McNab was nabbed by two fixed cameras set up one block apart. The first ticket is for $118 and the second is $111.

McNab calls the tickets "unreasonable."

"I'll pay the first ticket because I was speeding," she said, "but there's no way that there should be a second ticket 10 seconds later."

The executive director of the city's office of traffic safety said it's a mistake to call these photo-radar tickets because they were taken by fixed, mounted cameras that are clearly marked and always operational.

"This case is around speed that is detected in intersection safety devices that are in close proximity to one another," said Gerry Shimko.

"Each intersection is a high-risk intersection, so the point of it is that we're trying to protect people at those locations because we don't want the crashes to happen."

Shimko said "less than a handful" of people a year are double ticketed by cameras mounted so closely together and, to his knowledge, none of the second tickets have been successfully challenged in court.

Since receiving the tickets, McNab said she has spoken to a number of people at the municipal and provincial level.

Many of the responses have been rude and most have told her the only option she has is to fight the second ticket in court, she said.

A court date is set for Dec. 22.

McNab said she dreads making the trip to Edmonton three days before Christmas on winter roads.

"I'm not necessarily against photo radar and I don't often speed," McNab said. "But I'm not paying that second ticket. I'm going to go to court if I have to, but I think that ticket should be rescinded."

'Clearly this is a cash cow'

McNab rejects the idea that two photo-radar cameras placed so closely together is done in the interest of traffic safety.

"To me, I think that clearly this is a cash cow," she said. "To have two tickets 10 seconds apart is not about slowing down speeding. It's about making money. And that's my opinion."

Charlie Pester agrees. The former Calgary police officer is a traffic court agent at POINTTS Calgary.

Setting up two cameras a block apart "a little much," he said.

"If it was an actual policeman stopping you ... let's say he followed you for four blocks and pulled you over and wrote the ticket, a policeman's not going to write you a ticket for each and every block you were speeding in.

"Eventually they'll be everywhere because it's easy money for them."