Forgotten to most, the Judicial Inquiry into the Red Hill Valley Parkway (RHVP) controversy is continuing in Hamilton Ontario. The inquiry was requested by the City of Hamilton, as noted in the following excerpt taken from a letter to the Superior Court of Ontario:
“At a meeting held on March 20, 2019, Council of the City of Hamilton passed a
resolution requesting a judge of the Superior Court of Justice to investigate matters
relating to a failure to disclose to the City Council a draft report prepared by Tradewind
Scientific Ltd., dated November 20, 2013 with respect to the friction levels on the Red
Hill Valley Parkway in the City of Hamilton.”
Complaints about the slipperiness of the surface of the RHVP had been reported on a number of occasions and several serious collisions were noted that could be related to that cause. Eventually it was discovered that a technical report prepared for the City of Hamilton by Tradewind Scientific in 2013 confirmed the substandard surface conditions however that report seemed to have become lost, or perhaps purposely hidden. The Judicial Inquiry was created to obtain the facts about how these events occurred. Meanwhile a class action lawsuit claiming $250 million dollars was announced against the City of Hamilton with respect to these events. Presumably the lawsuit is awaiting the completion of the Inquiry before moving forward.
However the Judicial Inquiry seems to be dragging on and on. One reason for the delay was the COVID-19 epidemic. Never-the-less millions of dollars have already been spent for the inquiry and its completion does not appear to be on the horizon. Yet, useful details are emerging, if one had the time to read through its transcripts. Up to July 20, 2022 the Inquiry has produced transcripts with a total of 9025 pages of testimony. And this only includes the testimony of witnesses. The testimony of expert witnesses is still forthcoming.
A twist in the proceedings occurred when the City of Hamilton requested that 56 documents in its possession should not be disclosed claiming “solicitor-client” or “litigation” privilege. A separate decision was requested the Judicial Inquiry and that was rendered on August 9, 2022 by arbitrator Frank Marrocco of Stockwoods Barristers. The decision did not bode well for the City of Hamilton and now the Inquiry is in a holding pattern as it awaits whether the City of Hamilton will appeal the decision.
…and the holding pattern continues and the Inquiry drags on and the costs continue.
Ultimately the taxpayers of the City of Hamilton will be paying for the costs of the Inquiry and for the results of the class action lawsuit which is still to come.
Much of the focus of the Inquiry may be on the actions of the Director of Engineering Services for the City of Hamilton, Gary Moore. The Tradewinds report was given to Moore and his actions seem to be at issue since the report became missing. His latest testimony was completed in July, 2022 just before the actions of the Inquiry were stopped to deal with the City of Hamilton privilege issue.
It remains to be seen how interested the public may in these proceedings. How a municipality’s actions may be hidden from public scrutiny may be a central theme in the Inquiry. Who was at fault for such secrecy? And how can such developments be addressed in the future in the actions of other Ontario municipalities? It requires the public’s vigilance to keep this proceeding in its busy radar when so many other issues take away the public’s attention.