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Photo radar: one possible idea to help stop ICBC's financial woes

(Photo credit: Dustin Godfrey for NEWS 1130)
Summary

How to fix ICBC's money problems? One idea on the table may be bringing back photo radar

Police weigh in on whether reinstating photo radar is a good way to fix ICBC's debt

VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) – ICBC continues to bleed red as the province’s public insurance provider continues to struggle when it comes to balancing the books. With ICBC projected to lose more than $1 billion this fiscal year, photo radar could be an idea the government considers to improve safety on our roads.

While police believe it may cut down on the number of crashes, they also admit it’s not the perfect solution.

If photo radar makes a comeback in this province, Delta Police Chief Neil Dubord believes it could save lives. “I’ve been in Edmonton and I know the value of how it did decrease accidents and it had a fairly successful run at being able to monitor high-collision intersections, etc.”

But, Dubord adds the focus needs to be on safety and not generating money. “Well, if there’s one really bad intersection, [say] at the [Massey] Tunnel or Nordel Way, then maybe that’s where you need it but you don’t need it everywhere because then it becomes a cash cow.”


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New Westminster Police Chief Dave Jones agrees. “If people perceive it or potentially it’s used as they say, ‘revenue flow,’ then you’re not going to get the support for that.”

He says right now the province returns traffic fine revenue to police departments, so if photo radar is to help ICBC make up financial ground, then some major changes would be needed. Jones adds education and engineering options are typically less controversial ways to improve road safety.

ICBC Statement of Operations 2017

 

Last weekend, ICBC painted a sad picture of its financial situation and it certainly doesn’t look like things are going to improve anytime soon. The insurance corporation says, according to its own numbers, it has posted a net loss of $935 million for the first nine months of the fiscal year, running from Apr. 1st to Dec. 31, 2017.

It is blaming the numbers on a surge in claims and the growth in the costs of those cases. “Our projected net loss for our full 12-month, fiscal year (ending Mar. 31, 2018) now stands at almost $1.3 billion,” said ICBC in a statement. It went on to say, the current trend is not sustainable as net claim costs for the first nine months of the current fiscal year have totalled $4.25 billion.

Attorney General David Eby described the situation as a “financial dumpster fire.” He’s standing by a promise he made last year to reject any calls for “no fault” insurance, adding changes already made won’t be enough to erase the debt.

As for how high car insurance rates may spike, Eby didn’t disclosed any numbers at a news conference nearly a week ago, saying that will likely be part of the budget being put together by Finance Minister Carole James.

The BC NDP will table the budget on February 20th.