Hamilton has ‘every intent’ to give Red Hill Valley Parkway Inquiry disputed documents


Published August 19, 2022 at 12:50 pm

Following an unanimous city council meeting on Friday, the City of Hamilton has accepted a judge’s decision that it must turn over about 100 disputed documents to the Red Hill Valley Parkway Inquiry.

The inquiry was called by the elected leadership of Hamilton about 3½ years ago, after a bombshell revelation that a 2013 report byTradewind Scientific report about slipperiness on the RHVP was buried for six years. On Monday, two weeks out from the resumption of the inquiry, Justice Frank Marocco ruled that documents that city lawyers were trying to keep out of sight will be in play.

That prompted the one-item meeting, some of which took place out of the view of the public as councillors and outgoing Mayor Fred Eisenberger were briefed by the city’s legal counsel. But the mayor and eight councillors voted 9-0 to end the attempts to keep the documents covered up.

Along with Eisenberger, who is not seeking re-election, Couns. Maureen Wilson (Ward 1), Jason Farr (2), Nrinder Nann (3), Esther Pauls (7), John-Paul Danko (8), Brad Clark (9), Maria Pearson (10) and Lloyd Ferguson (12) cast votes to end the appeal. Seven of the eight are seeking re-election. Ferguson, who is not, did vote in 2019 not to hold the inquiry.

Couns. Sam Merulla (Ward 4), Russ Powers (5), Tom Jackson (6), Brenda Johnson (11), Arlene VanderBeek (13) and Judi Partridge (15) were not present for the vote. Among those six, Jackson and VanderBeek are running for re-election.

In a release sent less than a half-hour after the vote, the city gave a public explanation of its actions. It said the legal justification was based on pending litigation related to crashes on the RHVP.

“I can confirm that Council has elected not to pursue an appeal on this matter, and the City has every intent to produce the privileged documents that the Commission has requested,” Richard Brennan, the city’s communications lead for the RHVP Inquiry, said in the release on Friday.

“The City will be providing the Commission with all requested documents, which we anticipate will be the subject of discussion in the Inquiry,” the release added.

The inquiry is slated to resume on Aug. 29, one week from Monday.

Brennan added that the documents include:

  • “Correspondence between City and external solicitors as it relates to litigation matters.”
  • “A 2018 draft legal opinion from an external law firm related to a performance review of a City contractor, Tradewind Report, a 2015 Safety Review by an external consultant, and advice on the City’s ability to release information requested through the Freedom of Information Act.”
  • “A final copy of the legal opinion provided in 2019.”

The RHVP, a divided four-lane expressway, connects the Lincoln M. Alexander Parkway (aka The Linc) to the Queen Elizabeth Way highway near Hamilton Harbour. It was a controversial proposition in Hamilton municipal politics and urban planning for decades.

It was first supported by voters in 1954, but did not get built until 2007. The Haudenosaunee Confederacy (which has hereditary title to the area the RHVP covers) and ecologists objected to to the project, which goes through a wetland. In fact, any alterations to the 7-km expressway must involve Indigenous consultation.

There were fatal crashes on the RHVP after the Tradewind Scientific report was completed in 2013 and before the city paid for another contractor to perform a safety report, and subsequently lowered the speed limit to its current 80 km/h. The release on Friday said the city’s legal argument with the inquiry was made with an eye on lawsuits related to crashes.

“The City pursued the matter of legal privilege in light of pending litigation related to accidents on the Red Hill Valley Parkway,” Brennan stated in the release. “The decision to pursue the review of legally privileged documents was also strongly supported by the City’s insurer.

“I can confirm that following Justice Marrocco’s decision, the City’s insurer responsible for litigation coverage are prepared to accept the decision.”

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