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Councillors Talk School Bus Stop-Arm Camera Program

Dufferin County Still Exploring School Bus Stop-Arm Camera Program

On June 24, 2021, Dufferin County’s General Government Services Committee received a report updating them on the matter of implementing a school bus stop-arm camera program. Back in 2019, after a presentation from a company marketing the needed technology, council directed staff to explore the possibilities of implementing such a program. The objective of installing a stop-arm camera on school buses would be to assist in enforcing against vehicles failing to stop for school buses when required. As of September 1, 2020, supporting witnesses are no longer needed for automated school bus stop-arm camera footage to be accepted by the courts. The staff report contained a recommendation that a letter is sent to the province requesting the implementation of a mandatory school bus stop-arm camera program.

“The owners of the school buses and the Wellington-Dufferin Student Transportation Services were receptive to the program and reported that they receive reports of stop-arm violations from their staff every day from the bus drivers,” stated a related February 2020 document to Dufferin County council.

The county clerk, Michelle Dunne, explained how she had spoken with their provincial offences administration (POA) at the Town of Caledon. Staff learned that the Region of Peel is still looking into the school bus stop-arm camera program, including the options, scope, and cost. In the report, Dunne advised that it may be best to implement the program after Peel due to the POA arrangement between Caledon and Dufferin County municipalities.

“In an ideal world, somebody does most of the heavy lifting, and we are simply the beneficiary of these kinds of things,” said Mono’s Deputy Mayor John Creelman, chair of Dufferin County’s General Government Services Committee at the June 24 meeting. Surpluses from POA offices are distributed to local municipalities. 

Grand Valley’s Deputy Mayor and Dufferin County Councillor Philip Rentsch had several concerns with the recommendation that they send a letter to the province requesting the implementation of a mandatory school bus stop-arm camera program.

“Number one, I’m independent-minded,” attested Rentsch. “I don’t like people telling me what to do, so I also try not to tell other people what to do.”

Councillor Rentsch then took issue with adding to the workloads of municipalities that cannot handle it.

“While it sounds like we’re reasonably well set up with POA in Caledon, who can take the time for us, other municipalities aren’t,” asserted Rentsch. “What I hear as a refrain every time there are new mandatory programs, or new programs, is that there’s a capacity issue.”

In the report, a procurement process is described involving Kinetic GPO, of which Dufferin is a member. Kinetic GPO performs procurement for its members to ensure compliance, fairness, and transparency. The document states that Kinetic GPO is interested in proceeding with a procurement process that would allow ‘all municipalities nationwide’ to benefit. According to its website, Kinetic GPO collects an administrative fee from its suppliers based on purchases made from contracts by its members.

“We’re almost advocating on behalf of a for-profit company to do this,” said Rentsch.” “I really don’t think that’s what a municipality should be doing.”

Chair Creelman asked if the intent to request a mandatory implementation was to raise consistency in the roll-out of automated school bus stop-arm camera programs across the province. The clerk confirmed that was the case. Creelman then noted that the Ontario government is exploring moving red light camera offences from the provincial offences courts to an administrative penalties scheme (AMPS). Moving to AMPS keeps these offences out of the court system, simplifying and speeding up the process.

“That is probably not going to occur, if it ever occurs, until 2022,” suggested Creelman. “So, my hunch is that this is all heading towards something at least a year away.”

The committee decided to receive the staff report without writing a letter asking the province to implement a mandatory school bus stop-arm camera program.

References – Dufferin Councillors Talk School Bus Stop-Arm Camera Program

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