VANCOUVER -- The Richmond RCMP says the new intersection cameras being installed across the municipality will help in investigating car crashes.

The city is in the process of installing 110 cameras, each accompanied by a street sign indicating that the devices are recording. Half have already been installed, and the rest will be installed by the end of the month, according to city officials.

The project, which was approved by B.C.’s Office of Information and Privacy, is, according to Richmond city documents from 2020, primarily intended for “traffic management and road safety,” by providing data on traffic volume, speed, collisions, red-light running and more, allowing for preventative measures and “predictive road safety prevention and enforcement efforts that target high-risk traffic locations.”

“The OIPC was not supportive of Traffic Intersection Cameras being used, primarily, for law enforcement and recommended that it be managed by non-police city staff,” continues the February 2020 report written by the city’s community safety manager Cecilia Achiam.

Statements from both the RCMP and Richmond city officials on Monday confirm the camera footage will be used to collect information on car crashes.

Cpl. Ian Henderson of the Richmond RCMP said his force is eager to use the camera footage to investigate car crashes.

“(We have) the ability to use them post collision, to understand what happened better than we have in the past where we’ve been relying on statements and pictures after the fact,” said Henderson.

On Monday, Henderson sent a news release calling the cameras a new tool in the city’s “public safety toolbox,” and also told CTV News Vancouver that he’s aware of privacy concerns regarding the footage.

“There is privacy concerns with these cameras, and the city has strict guidelines as to what information they can record, and what information they can share under specific instances.”

Clay Adams, the director of corporate communications for the city of Richmond, said on Monday by email that “the cameras are in place to assist in dealing with intersection collisions,” and confirmed that there are guidelines on how and when to release the footage.

“The public, companies, agencies and police can all apply to access footage related to an actual collision or incident at that location. Footage cannot be requested otherwise,” Adams continued.

The cameras are not high-resolution, and thus do not capture enough detail for viewers to see licence plate digits or facial features, according to the city’s website. Adams said the video footage cannot be requested for other purposes and that “law enforcement can only request to access footage when a crime has occurred,” and, “It cannot access footage for non-criminal reasons.”

Asked whether the cameras can collect other biometric data on pedestrians, such as gait, height or weight, Adams said no.

“The resolution of the cameras is not sufficient to allow biometric data to be captured,” he wrote.

Access to any of the video footage starts at $375.

B.C.’s Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner has approved and reviewed the use of the cameras, according to the 2020 project report. In the report it states that the privacy commissioner’s office would not support the cameras being managed by police, and that they should be managed by the city’s transportation department – a directive that has been followed.