KAMLOOPS HAS 25
KELOWNA – One year after the horrific killing of a Kelowna man on a B.C. Transit bus and six months after they promised to begin installing them, there still isn’t a single operational camera on any Kelowna buses.
Last year, on Oct. 30, Caesar Rosales was killed in front of more than a dozen passengers on a Kelowna bus. Shortly after, a B.C. Transit spokesperson told Canadian Press that surveillance cameras would be rolling on some buses in the Central Okanagan by spring 2015. Now Transit spokesperson John Barry says it will be at least another year before any cameras go online here.
“We started a one-year pilot project in April and put cameras on 100 buses in our fleet,” he says. “We’re just collecting information and working with the Privacy Commissioners Office and other agencies and will certainly be looking at the end of the pilot if there’s an ability for us to expand the program.”
According to Barry, it cost $40,000 to purchase, install and integrate each camera on the 100 buses chosen for the pilot program. Victoria got 75 and Kamloops got 25. With roughly 1,000 buses in operation across the province, B.C. Transit will have to spend approximately $4 million, a number that will surely climb if microphones are installed as well.
“It would be a fairly capital intensive project to be able to move forward with cameras on all buses,” Barry says.
This week, a Kamloops bus driver was assaulted by an irate passenger who fled the scene but it is not known if that bus was equipped with one of the pilot project cameras. RCMP did not release a picture of the suspect just a description of his appearance.
Scott Lovell, president of local 1722 of the Amalgamated Transit Union, says cameras are vital for several reasons and would be of immense help if a crime were committed on another bus.
“It’s an effective deterrent and it gives passengers on board and the drivers a sense of security,” he says.
A major obstacle to provincial implementation, according to Barry, is privacy, however Vancouver’s Translink and PCH have been using surveillance cameras for years.
“We had to submit a privacy impact assessment to the B.C. Privacy Commissioner to ensure that we were going to be using them in the pilot in a way that was within their guidelines,” he says. “Our hope is that we can expand it to the entire fleet.”
Barry could not say when that would happen.
“The first step would be for us to complete the pilot, we’d have a set of recommendations we have to go through, a bit of a review process and approval to see if we can get the budget,” he says. “It’s hard to say which systems will get the technology first if it’s approved, but Kelowna is one of our larger systems so it’s likely… they would be the first urban centres to get the cameras if we move ahead with full implementation.”
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