Toronto passes new framework to deal with ticket disputes for red light and speed cameras

Toronto City Council has passed a new framework to streamline the complaints process around red light and speed camera tickets as it ramps up the use of the technology.

Under the plan, ticket disputes will be moved from the provincial courts to a city-administered penalty system, similar to parking ticket disputes.

According to city staff, doing so will streamline the dispute resolution process for drivers, improve efficiency, free up court time for other matters, and allow the city to avoid a backlog of disputes.

“Administrative penalty systems have been successful at the provincial and municipal levels of government, including in the City of Toronto for parking violations, are an effective method of enforcement and dispute resolution, and contribute to trust and confidence in the justice sector,” staff said in a report.

Helping clear the backlog of ticket disputes will also allow the city to roll out more cameras in order to help meet its Vision Zero road safety goals, city staff said.

“It’s about moving the system forward, but slowing down cars,” Mayor Olivia Chow told reporters ahead of the council meeting this week.

Chow said she gets frequent reports about pedestrians and cyclists being struck by vehicles and speed can often be a factor in such cases.

“I do know that in some instances if the car is driving slower, less injury and maybe even life saved,” Chow said. “By speeding up our efforts to increase this kind of enforcement so that we can get more cameras on the road, it is saying to the driver ‘obey the law. Slow down or else there will be consequences.'”

She said the plan will help protect seniors and other vulnerable road users.

The plan would see the number of automated speed enforcement cameras double from 75 to 150 by 2026, with the city creating 74 new staff positions to manage the system.

It is estimated that the new system will bring in $71.27 million in net revenue for the city by 2026, though staff say that is not the point.

“The enforcement of regulatory offences, including those for Red Light Cameras and Automated Speed Enforcement, are not designed to be revenue generation tools for municipalities,” staff said in their report. “The fines and penalties associated with these offences are for the purpose of deterring behaviour which has been determined to be a risk to public safety.”

The motion was passed unanimously by council. The change will take effect on Nov. 1 this year.