West Kelowna city councillor

Rick de Jong

An Okanagan city with one municipally owned traffic light wants to bring back photo radar.

Members of West Kelowna council have endorsed the idea of asking the NDP government to allow communities to decide whether they want to install photo radar.

“Speeding is an issue throughout our community,” Coun. Rick de Jong said at the Tuesday evening council meeting.

De Jong noted the NDP recently introduced a new form of photo radar at 35 highway locations, which already have devices to identify and fine drivers who run red lights.

“If it’s good enough for them, why the heck can’t it be good enough for municipalities?” de Jong said.

Mayor Gord Milsom said he thought photo radar would be more effective in getting drivers to slow down than other measures like speed bumps and speed-reader boards have proven to be.

“Whatever we can do to reduce the amount of speeding in our community,” Milsom said. “If it means people have to pay for speeding, well, so be it.”

Coun. Doug Findlater, who was the only one to oppose a similar council request two years ago, said he now supports the use of photo radar.

“I think the problem continues to grow. We continue to get complaints about people ripping through neighbourhoods,” Findlater said.

Findlater noted West Kelowna (pop. 35,000) has only one municipally owned traffic light, at the corner of Old Okanagan Highway and Butt Road. All the other traffic lights are along Highway 97, which is owned and maintained by the provincial government.

Photo radar is an effective tool in discouraging speeding in cities such as Winnipeg and Moose Jaw, said Coun. Jayson Zilkie.

“You don’t need it at every intersection, but in a few key areas,” Zilkie said.

West Kelowna will lobby for other B.C. towns and cities to support its call for a return of photo radar at this fall’s Union of B.C. Municipalities conference.

De Jong is the brother of Mike de Jong, a former Liberal cabinet minister whose government made abolishing photo radar one of its top priorities after winning the 2001 B.C. election.

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