Future of grant fund relies on Automatic Traffic Enforcement program

Masha Scheele

Certified photo radar companies could be bidding on the automated traffic enforcement (ATE) program contract in Hinton if council approves the request for proposal (RFP) process at the next council meeting in November.

Currently, the contract is held by Global Traffic Group since July of 2006 but expires on Dec. 31.

Council looked at different options, including hiring another officer for traffic or administering the ATE program internally.

Having a photo radar contract allows the continuation of the community grant fund, while also enhancing traffic safety.

Other options didn’t leave much funding for the community grant fund.

“We’ve had a very significant amount of civic agencies looking for funding, our grant funding got cut short last year. I’ve received almost zero negative feedback on photo radar since it’s kind of largely done its job and slowed people down,” said Coun. Dewly Nelson, during the standing committee meeting on Oct. 22.

Nelson added that citizens are concerned about additional town positions, and hiring a photo radar company would address local safety concerns without adding a position.

Coun. Ryan Maguhn addressed concerns over photo radar contractors not sharing the same values as the town when it comes to safety and are more focused on making a revenue.

Working with contractors poses its challenges, explained Todd Martens, protective services manager.

Reports from the current contractor show four zones that are most used, regardless of town staff requests. 

“It’s harder to control a contractor than it is with some of the other options,” said Martens.

Coun. Tyler Waugh added that a lot of the previous concerns with the contractor can be addressed in the RFP.

Only two certified photo radar companies are available to apply in the RFP process, including Global Traffic Group, said Martens.

“If you’re not happy with Global Traffic, they could win the RFP because there are only two contractors that do this and then you have another three years of Global Traffic,” said Martens.

Another point brought up by Martens was that outstanding fines and revenue would not come back to Hinton when the contract expires at the end of December.

The town loses that revenue because the contractor represents the tickets in court and will not continue representing tickets once their contract expires. 

Outstanding tickets could be dropped because of this.

To avoid losing revenue, council discussed the possibility of working with Global Traffic on a month to month basis, but Maguhn pointed out that this wouldn’t be in the best interest of the community.

“We are talking about a contractor who has had employees represented in the community who’ve berated our citizens on the street,” said Maguhn. “This is somebody who has demonstrated on multiple occasions the ability to act unethically to our citizens. So to give them further business because that’s convenient, I can’t do that.” He added that the town has asked the contractor in the past to shift focus to areas of interest to the town, which were ignored.

Past problems would be addressed specifically in the RFP contract, such as marked vehicles and zone requirements, added Martens.

The more specific the RFP is on expectations of the program, the more successful the program will be, added CAO Martin Taylor.

An RFP process will take months before a new contractor is hired, beyond the expiration of the current contract, stated Taylor.

Before the RFP process can start, council will decide on what the contract will cover.