Province rejects call by Edmonton police for new tools to crack down on speeders

The Alberta government has turned down a joint request by Edmonton police and the City of Edmonton to grant officers the power to seize vehicles belonging to excessive speeders.

The appeal for new tools arose as measures to contain COVID-19 emptied roadways and speeding incidents increased. 

At a police commission meeting Thursday, Edmonton police Chief Dale McFee repeated his call for legislative change that would allow officers to impound vehicles caught driving 50 kilometres over the speed limit.

A letter written by the police service and the city was being sent to the transportation minister, McFee said.

But the province is already ruling out the request, saying current sanctions are tough enough.

“Government has been in contact with police chief McFee to inform him that we will not be implementing roadside seizure as an enforcement option for excessive speeding, as we’re comfortable with the existing sanctions,” Brooklyn Elhard, press secretary for Alberta’s transportation minister, said in an email to CBC News on Friday.

The penalty for driving 50 km/h over the speed limit is $413 and six demerit points. For vehicles travelling at even greater speeds, the driver must appear in court.

The judge may impose fines up to $2,000, a suspension of up to 90 days or six demerit points or incarceration. Offenders must also pay a 20 per cent surcharge to a fund for victims of crime.

Police say the penalties are not enough to deter speeders on Edmonton’s streets.

Between March 21 and May 19, police caught 154 drivers traveling 50 km/h or more above the speed limit. 

The fastest vehicle was doing 214 km/h in a 100 km/h speed zone while another driver recently crossed the High Level Bridge at 156 km/h.

Another was clocked traveling at 119 km/h in a 50 km/h construction zone on Groat Road with workers present at the time, police said. 

Police also asked the province for the power to temporarily suspend the licence of a motorist caught speeding.

Alberta is one of a few remaining provinces that has not made these amendments under the Traffic Safety Act, police say.