Hamilton commits to improvements following judicial inquiry

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Ontario Construction News staff writer

The City of Hamilton is reviewing the Red Hill Valley Parkway judicial inquiry recommendations as part of its ongoing commitment to public safety and trust.

The report is available at www.rhvpi.ca. The initial budget for the Red Hill Valley Parkway Judicial Inquiry, forecasted in 2019 to be between $5 million and then $7 million, was revised to $20 million in December 2021 and increased to $26 million last year.

City staff have created a working group that will develop an “action plan” to respond to 36 recommendations that came out of the Red Hill Valley Parkway judicial inquiry.

A previous city council requested the inquiry in 2019, after finding a 2013 consultant’s report detailing results of asphalt friction testing that was not shared with the City’s Senior Leadership Team or City Council until late 2018 and early 2019, respectively.

Since then, the city has taken various actions to investigate and improve transparency and coordination between City departments. The Red Hill Valley Parkway was also repaved in May and July 2019.

A chief road official position was created to improve operating procedures related to planning, design, construction, and maintenance operations for City roadways, including the Red Hill and a Parkway Management Committee to ensure better information sharing and workplan alignment among City divisions.

The city also took steps to improve document management systems and policies regarding information sharing and transparency.

Findings were released last week, and found that “relatively low” friction levels on the parkway likely contributed to crashes prior to 2019, when the discovery of hidden test results that flagged those concerns prompted an emergency repaving and a speed limit reduction to 80 km/h.

In late 2018, the staff discovered the Tradewind Report, which was subsequently shared with Council in early 2019 and on April 24,  a resolution was tabled under s. 274 of the Municipal Act, 2001, requesting the Chief Justice of Ontario appoint a Superior Court judge to investigate matters related to the disclosure of the Tradewind Report.

The Honourable Mr. Justice Herman J. Wilton-Siegel was appointed as Commissioner in May 2019 a public hearings started in late March.

“I’d like to thank the Inquiry Commission for its hard work and important recommendations. Although this incident occurred long before the current council’s term, I apologize for this serious breach of public trust and am absolutely committed to preventing anything like this from happening again,” said Mayor Andrea Horwath. “I would like to personally express my remorse to the families who have been impacted by tragic accidents on the Red Hill Valley Parkway.

“I know that lives have been lost and that the release of this report today will be difficult for many. My heart is with them.”

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