The Red Hill Valley Parkway inquiry commencing in the City of Hamilton has the potential or addressing major shortcomings in municipal operations throughout Ontario. Alternatively it may become a vehicle for further secrecy. Time will tell.

The starter’s pistol has been fired into the proceedings of the Red Hill Valley Parkway fiasco that will plague the City of Hamilton for a number of years into the future. Presently officials are arguing over who can line up at the starting line, allowing them to give evidence at the inquiry later this fall. But who decides which entity gets disqualified even before the start of the race? If someone, agency or business wants to give testimony who decides that it won’t happen and will there be reasons given why some entities will not be allowed to participate? Will the entities that are refused participation be publicly identified?

The Commissioner of the Inquiry, Justice Herman J. Wilton-Siegel will make these decisions. Given the track record of of recent events surrounding politics at the City of Hamilton Justice Wilton-Siegel needs to recognize that the taxpayers of the City of Hamilton need to be given the greatest priority with respect to official standing at the inquiry. Matters such as access to documents for example cannot be hidden from the public and only provided to the select participants who have claimed official standing.

From a perception viewpoint the Red Hill Valley Parkway Inquiry is not off to a good start. The Terms of Reference of the Inquiry have been authored by the very entity, the City of Hamilton, who could be determined as guilty of hiding the Tradewinds Scientific Report that is the subject of the inquiry. While Hamilton’s City council claims that he did not know that the Tradewinds report existed one only needs to look at council’s recent track record to be concerned. It was Hamilton’s city councillors who did not tell the public about a sewage leak into the local Chedoke Creek – a leak that was going on for over four years. This occurred even after they knew that the Red Hill Valley Parkway fiasco was reaching the public. How trustworthy are city councillors in that they are allowed to write the rules as to how the inquiry into their actions will held?

As anyone who needs to pass by a sewage leak Hamilton taxpayers need to hold their noses and wait. Wait to see if someone with any integrity will make the Red Hill Valley Parkway Inquiry work as it should. At this point those participating in the inquiry had better recognize that any further mischief with respect to secrecy and hiding essential facts from the public may result in even greater consequences.