Friday, December 4, 2009

Right To Information Request to to Minister Denis Landry, New Brunswick Department of Transportation

On December 4, 2009, we had to make a request under the Right to Information Act to Denis Landry, New Brunswick's Minister of Transportation, for information about the policies which were being cited by the Department of Transportation's engineering consultant, David Hoar of Motion Design Assoc., Fredericton, NB, as the rationale behind his claim that mixed tires were suitable for a 21 passenger MFAV like the one used by Bathurst High School. (Click here to read David Hoar's response to our request to the NB Department of Transportation for scientific evidence that mixed tires were suitable for 21 passenger MFAVs). Not only does David Hoar NOT provide any scientific evidence, but he cites an unnamed "policy". We wanted to know what the "policy" was and what department it belonged to, Transportation or Education?. So the only way to get that information was through a Right to Information request.

We also asked the Minister to answer three questions we had that we couldn't seem to get anyone to answer about the use of the 21 passenger MFAV by BHS. You see, after we found out the BHS 21 passenger MFAV had mixed tires, we heard a rumour the vehicles were being taken off the road. Since we only believe in cold, hard facts, we wrote to John McLaughlin, Superintendent of District 15, whether it was true or not but all we got from him was a classic pile of "BS" - BureacrateSe - that didn't answer the question whatsoever. Click here to read our letter to John McLaughlin and his response to us. Meantime, below is our letter to the Minister of Transportation asking about the policy Mr. Hoar was talking about and whether it was true the 21 passenger vehicles had been taken off the road.

Finally, we asked the Ministerif the Department was going to do undertake scientific testing of the 21 passenger MFAVs.


Hon. Denis Landry
1344-3 Des Fondateurs Street
Paquetville, N.B.
E8R 1A4

December 4, 2009

Hon. Denis Landry

Re: Request for information under the Right to Information Act

Please find enclosed the five dollar fee for an official request under the Right to Information Act for research data which supports the claims made by David Hoar, the Department of Transportation's engineering consultant, that a 21 passengers Multifunctional Activity Vehicle (MFAV) should be equipped with all season tires on the front and winter tires (with a mountain and snowflake pictograph) on the rear at high speed only.

In this regard, attached is a letter from Mr. Hoar, dated November 22, 2009, "Usage of winter designated tires on passenger vehicles and light busses" in which he attempts to explain the rationale behind his recommendation to your Department that a combination of tires should be fitted on Bathurst High School's 21 passenger MFAV.

In paragraphs one and two and three of Mr. Hoar's letter, he refers to a "policy". We quote: "...we had previously reviewed the policy used by Education and concurred with its contents." and "For light busses based on LT Chassis, and larger busses, the recommendation was to keep the policy in effect and install such tires on the drive position only. Steer positions should continue to be equipped with appropriate rib style tires that are less aggressive than on the drive positions." and " We agree that for heavy snow conditions there will be an improvement in steering and braking abilities at lower or urban speeds with winter tires installed in all positions, however for weather controlled operational profiles that include significant highway speed usage, we concur and recommend that the winter traction tires be confined to the drive positions, as in virtually all commercial and highway usage vehicles that are rear drive."

To that effect, we are also requesting under the Right to Information Act the number and copy of the Department of Transportation policy to which Mr. Hoar refers, a copy of the original policy, and any revisions that were made on this policy to supports the reason how, when, where and why the 21 passenger MFAV should be equipped with all season tires on the front and winter tires with a mountain and snowflake pictograph on the rear.

We already have the NB Department of Education's Policies 512 and 513 and the District Education Council Policies E-8 and E-8a from District 15 so we are not referring to those policies: rather, we are requesting the Department of Transportation Policy to which Mr. Hoar is referring in his letter of November 22, 2009.

As you are probably aware, Mr. Hoar's recommendation is in contradiction to Transport Canada and every other tire expert in the country which state that mixing tires with different tread patterns, internal construction, and size degrades the stability of the vehicle and should be avoided.

We have spoken to more than a dozen tire experts across Canada including Nigel Mortimer of Transport Canada and John Mahler, a veteran automotive journalist with the Toronto Star's Wheels Magazine and they all say the same thing: that these 21 passengers MFAV should have winter tires all around. As this is a public safety issue with ramifications and liability concerns far beyond the NB Department of Transportation, we implore you to listen to the expert advice of professionals from outside the province whose informed opinion completely contradicts that of Mr. Hoar.

In addition, we would like to know the answers to the following questions, which do not fall under the scope of the Right to Information Act; therefore, we hope that you can answer these questions immediately:

When do you intend to request that the Federal Department of Transport undertake a research study on the feasibility of using mixed tires on the 21 passengers Multifunctional Activity Vehicle?
Will the NB Department of Transportation undertake its own study of mixed tires on the 21 passengers Multifunctional Activity Vehicle?
Are the entire 21 passengers MFAV from all school Districts in New Brunswick off the road?

Thank you in advance for answering our questions and complying with our request for information under Right to Information Act.


Isabelle Hains
Marcella Kelly
Ana Acevedo

cc: Premier Shawn Graham
cc: Minister Roland Hache
cc: Minister Denis Landry
cc: Minister John Foran
cc: Charlotte Valley