Ottawa

Ontario names appeal judge to head LRT inquiry commission

An Ontario appeal court judge has been named the commissioner to oversee a public inquiry into the Confederation Line, the light-rail system in Ottawa, which is expected to wrap up in the summer of 2022 at the earliest.

Results of the inquiry expected by August 2022, end of November 2022 at the latest

The province announced it would call a public inquiry into the Confederation Line after two trains derailed, including the one seen here in September 2021. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press)

An Ontario appeal court judge has been named the commissioner to oversee a public inquiry into the Confederation Line, the light-rail system in Ottawa, which is expected to wrap up in the summer of 2022 at the earliest.

Justice William Hourigan, who was appointed to Ontario's Court of Appeal in 2013, was previously a partner in law firm Fasken Martineau who "specialized in complex litigation while in practice," according to a provincial statement released Friday morning that also announced more details of the inquiry.

Exactly a month ago, Ontario's Transportation Minister Caroline Mulroney announced the Progressive Conservative cabinet decided to investigate the troubled Confederation Line, a week after Ottawa's city council voted against holding a judicial inquiry into the $2.1-billion construction project and $1-billion maintenance contract.

Mulroney's announcement came on the heels of CBC News reporting the city's former head of transit knew there were reliability issues with the LRT system just weeks before taking possession, as well as a story on a consultant deeply involved in the Confederation Line who told a former mayor he'd be "screwed" by an inquiry.

Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson, seen in a black suit, and Ontario Minister of Transportation Caroline Mulroney, seen wearing blue, push the 'power button' to mark launch day for the Confederation Line in September 2019. (CBC)

Mandate to look at financing, city oversight

The province's statement also laid out the scope of the inquiry, which will look into the technical issues that led to the two derailments earlier this year, but it will dig further back.

The commission will investigate the procurement process the city selected for the Confederation Line, and how Rideau Transit Group (RTG) was chosen. It will also consider whether the private-public-partnership — known as P3 — funding had "an impact on the technical standards applied" and if the contract between the city and LRT was in accordance with all applicable laws and industry standards, including performance and safety.

Of particular note, the inquiry will also look at whether the city required enough testing of the LRT before accepting it.

According to the province's statement, the inquiry will investigate whether the city itself had proper oversight of the project, including how it was decided the Confederation Line "had reached substantial completion and any associated testing carried out to support such a declaration."

The entire process is expected to be completed in less than a year. The commission is supposed to deliver a final report to Mulroney by Aug. 31, 2022 or, if Mulroney agrees to an extension, "no later than Nov. 30, 2022."

There was no budget estimate included in Friday's statement.

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?

now