The justice leading the Red Hill Valley Parkway Inquiry (RHVPI) says the next public hearing for the probe will take place next week in a virtual livestream.
In a release at rhvpi.ca on Monday, commissioner Justice Herman Wilton-Siegel revealed the inquiry is still in the “document collection and research phase” and has yet to interview persons of interest connected to the case.
“As part of this, the commissioner and commission counsel have been maintaining regular contact with participants, continuing to seek the production of documents for participants and non-participants, and engaging subject-matter experts to conduct research and analysis,” said a post on the inquiry’s website.
The post goes on to say that the COVID-19 pandemic has “resulted in some delay” due to physical distancing and issues with connecting with some participants and non-participants tied to the investigation.
The virtual public hearing will take place on Tuesday, July 7 at 10 a.m.
The inquiry was launched in April of 2019 after a 2013 Tradewind Scientific report, which analyzed friction levels on the parkway and suggested some safety issues with the roadway, was reportedly buried by city staff for five years.
The audit revealed that friction values were “below or well below” U.K. safety standards, which were used as a benchmark in the study.
The report came to light in 2018 when the new director of engineering services came across the Tradewind study and its recommendations for “further examination of the pavement surface, composition and wear performance” and “more investigatory work.”
In February 2019, the City of Hamilton issued a public apology for the buried report and followed up by asking a superior court judge to investigate the matter with a public inquiry. The city then allocated $7 million to cover the costs.
The RHVPI has been divided into two stages.
First, is to determine the facts relating to 24 questions posed by Hamilton’s city council, which fall into five general categories:
- Why the 2013 report on the Red Hill Valley Parkway (RHVP) and the Lincoln M. Alexander Parkway were not revealed to city council or the public.
- Why testing from the Ontario Ministry of Transportation (MTO) on the RHVP in 2007 was not disclosed to city council or the public.
- Whether the city or MTO conducted any other friction tests or general road safety reviews of the RHVP.
- What the standards for friction testing in Ontario are.
- Other than friction, what other factors contribute to motor vehicle accidents on the RHVP.
The second stage will be road safety recommendations from the inquiry in the interest of the public and government, according to Wilton-Siegel.
There is no specific timeline for when the inquiry will be completed. Formal public hearings were expected to take place until this fall.
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