Who saw a report showing substandard pavement friction on the Red Hill Valley Parkway (RHVP)? Why didn’t they tell Hamilton city council? And did the failure to do so put drivers at risk?
Those are among the 24 questions the city wants a judge to tackle in a judicial investigation into the RHVP.
City council’s general issues committed approved the list on Wednesday. They also agreed to set aside $7 million — to start — to pay for the investigation.
The city hopes to hire a judge in the next two months to conduct a public inquiry into a 2013 report by Tradewind Scientific. That report showed the slipperiness of the highway’s pavement was below UK safety standards in some areas. Council only learned of the report’s existence in February.
For years, councillors have been making decisions around millions in upgrades to the highway without having seen the report. Its reveal prompted council to repave the highway ahead of schedule, and reduce the speed limit from 90 km/h to 80.
A judicial investigation is independent, so a judge decides what to examine. Here are some other questions councillors want answered:
- Who at the city saw the report after January 2014?
- Based on city bylaws, policies and procedures, should councillors have been made aware of it? Why didn’t they see it in 2014?
- Who discovered it in 2018?
- Did staff act appropriately after it was discovered in fall 2018? Should they have told council right away?
- Did the delay put the public at risk?
- Would anything in the report have triggered safety changes or further studies?
The judicial investigation could be a long, expensive affair. A city-hired outside lawyer told council to order an auditor general investigation instead, but council wanted a judicial investigation because it was more transparent.
The external lawyer said the investigation would cost between $1 million and $11 million.
The judge will set up an office and hire staff. The city will have lawyers too. On Wednesday, councillors approved hiring the law firm Lenczner Slaght Royce Smith Griffin LLP.