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Attempt underway for class-action lawsuit over photo radar tickets in Manitoba

An estimated 470,000 photo radar tickets were handed out in that four-year span

A Winnipeg man is trying to launch a class-action lawsuit against the Manitoba government that alleges it overcharged people an estimated $36 million in photo radar tickets.

William Acheson’s statement of claim says the government did not follow its own regulations in fines handed out between November 2017 and November 2021. Speeding motorists were charged for every kilometre per hour over the speed limit, while provincial regulations at the time stated said that fines only started at 10 kilometres an hour over the limit, the lawsuit alleges.

“They were charging for every kilometre (per hour) over the speed limit, so they weren’t excluding that buffer the way that the regulations prescribed,” Naomi Kovak, one of the plaintiff’s lawyers, said in an interview Thursday from Vancouver.

An estimated 470,000 photo radar tickets were handed out in that four-year span, Kovak said.

The statement of claim contains allegations that have not been proven in court. The provincial government, which was only recently served the claim, has not filed a statement of defence.

“As the matter is before the courts it would not be appropriate for the province to comment at this time,” the provincial Justice department said in a written statement Thursday.

There is no date set yet for a court hearing. Kovak hopes a judge will approve the lawsuit as a class action so that other drivers might be eligible for compensation.

The lawsuit centres on regulations under the Highway Traffic Act approved by the Progressive Conservative cabinet in 2017.

The regulations stated that the fine for speeding is “$7.70 for each kilometre per hour in excess of 10 km/h over the maximum permitted speed.” In construction zones, the fines are doubled. There are also court costs and surcharges tacked on, calculated as percentages of the fine.

Photo radar tickets issued during the four-year period started the fines at $7.70 from the very first kilometre over the limit, which meant drivers were overcharged a minimum of $77 each time, the lawsuit alleges.

In November of 2021, the government amended the regulations to eliminate the 10 km/h buffer and formally permit fines to kick in at one km/h over the speed limit, the lawsuit alleges.

Steve Lambert, The Canadian Press

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