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Red Hill Inquiry heard further testimony about lack of information-sharing between city departments

Red Hill Inquiry heard further testimony about lack of information-sharing between city departments

The Red Hill Inquiry will resume hearings next Monday. Last week they heard testimony that illustrated friction between individual divisions within the Public Works Department. Dipankar Sharma, an electrical engineer, who was employed by the city in street lighting as a project manager, was asked about a departmental email exchange where the traffic department had been installing traffic cameras on light standards along the Red Hill, apparently without consulting with the Street lighting department who had control of the poles. The email suggested the problem had been going back for years. The lighting department’s concern was whether the poles were structurally sound enough to have the cameras installed. There have already been several witnesses at the inquiry who have testified about information silos between various divisions of Public Works. For example, the Consultant CIMA, commissioned to do a safety audit on the Red Hill, were recommending friction testing, apparently unaware that Goldner Associates had already commissioned such testing.

Another instance of lack of information-sharing centered around the Environmental Assessment that had been conducted as was required before construction of the Red Hill could commence. The former director of engineering in Public Works, Gary Moore had often referred to that EA as the reason more lighting could not be installed on the highway, citing concerns about light pollution.

Mr. Sharma testified that in 2018, the head of Traffic decided to actually look at the Environmental Assessment document to see what it’s restrictions on lighting were, and nobody could find a copy of the EA. Mr. Sharma was forced to go to the Hamilton Public Library to obtain a copy, where one had been deposited years earlier.

Q: So what steps did you take to find the EA study?

A: I can’t recall exactly what steps we took. I do remember we went to the Hamilton Library where they had a copy of the study.

Q: There wasn’t a copy on hand at the city?

A: We couldn’t locate one.

Sharma testified he was appointed to work with the city Audit Department who were conducting a value-for-money audit on city pavements, but with specific interest in the Red Hill. It was his job to find and provide the various documents, reported and studies requested by Audit. Prior to this, the department head Gord McGuire had issued a directive expressing concern that audit officials were talking to individual members of the engineering department without management being aware and he directed that all requests from audit be filtered through senior staff. Inquiry documents show that before Sharma became point person, Audit Services expressed concerns that they were having trouble getting cooperation from Engineering in their inquiries.

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