Drivesmart column: Traffic fine revenue sharing changes

The municipality must develop a plan that sets out the intended uses and performance targets

By Tim Schewe

We don’t hear a lot about B.C.’s Traffic Fine Revenue Sharing program except when the government is handing out grants to the municipalities. The money is supposed to be employed to “support community safety and address local policing priorities.”

A requirement for participating in the revenue sharing is that the municipality must develop a plan that sets out the intended uses and performance targets for the funds received from the province. It will report publicly on the plan and progress made toward achieving performance targets for the funds in accordance with those plans.

I did a bit of searching and found an example of one of these reports. It simply states that, “The Traffic Fine Revenue Sharing Grant is assigned to the RCMP budget and is used to fund an additional officer. Without the grant, the City would have had to increase property tax rate a further .75% to maintain the same number of RCMP officers.”

There is no evidence of a plan, targets or achievments. This is also a city with a Traffic Safety Committee whose meetings are closed to the public, will not accept public input and makes no public information on its deliberations available.

Rural governments simply receive a reduction in their policing bills instead of being able to exercise discretion the way municipalities do.

There are changes coming in 2020 based on changes that the province has made or is contemplating to modernize the traffic ticket system:

• Expanding the red light Intersection Safety Camera (ISC) to operate continuously

• Implementing speed activated ISCs

• Implementing electronic traffic ticketing

• Potentially replacing the traffic courts with an administrative justice tribunal

All of these changes are underway with the exception of the tribunal. This was still “somewhere over the horizon” the last time I inquired about it.

Recognizing that this will incur new costs, the province and the Union of BC Municipalities have co-operated on amendments to the agreement. The UBCM is expecting that the agreement will “generate additional net income for local governments.”

Mention was made of meetings between UBCM representatives and the provincial government in the summer of 2019 proposing the use of traffic fine revenue for a collision reduction program at intersections and the possibility of extending restrictions on the use of the revenues.

Following that consultation, “the Province is not proceeding with either of these proposals.”

Instead of requiring ICBC to fund additional traffic enforcement perhaps the money should come from provincial traffic fines instead. Let’s make problem drivers pay and enjoy a reduction in our ICBC premiums.

Tim Schewe is a retired constable with many years of traffic law enforcement. To comment or learn more, please visit DriveSmartBC.ca

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