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City looking to refute some of the testimony on Red Hill friction

If the city wants to bring in a bunch of new expert witnesses it will have to be ready to see its costs for the Red Hill Inquiry jump past its current level. That was the strong hint from Mr. Justice Herman J. Wilton-Seigel at a hearing yesterday to determine which expert witnesses will be allowed in the next phase of the Inquiry. The inquiry heard several months of testimony from fact witnesses and then paused in early October. The next round of the hearings will involve technical experts.

Alluding to the fact that the city is facing multiple lawsuits, and anticipating that there will likely be adverse findings about the city’s role in the fatal accidents that occurred on the highway, Jonathan Chen representing the City of Hamilton wanted to present witnesses that would challenge some fundamental assumptions about what constitutes an optimal level of friction to consider the road to be safe.

Commissioner Wilton-Seigel demonstrated some skepticism about the need for the new testimony. At one point he said to Mr. Chen , “your clients (City of Hamilton) has had several years to present this evidence.” He wondered if  the city was proposing to call witnesses that would refute the city’s earlier witnesses. He also made the observation that “expert witnesses provide the evidence their clients want.”

In the end it was a mixed bag with the Commissioner rejecting some of the proposed areas of discussion, accepting others and reserving decisions on the remaining items and witnesses. He did not indicate a date for rendering his decision. The latest estimate shows the inquiry will run up a tab of at least $28 Million and Mr. Justice Wilton-Seigel seemed to be trying to move things along with his close questioning of what value the city’s experts would add to the inquiry.

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