Retired Manitoba engineer faces disciplinary hearing over amber lights comments

A retired Manitoba engineer has gained national media attention after being charged with professional misconduct over comments he made about the timing of Winnipeg amber traffic lights to two Manitoba newspapers.

David Grant, P.Eng. (Manitoba), who attended his first disciplinary hearing with the province’s engineering regulator, Engineers and Geoscientists Manitoba (EGM), in July, was charged with seven allegations, including bringing his profession into ill repute, expressing opinions without being qualified, and practising while retired. He faces a potential loss of licence, $25,000 fine and assignment of EGM’s legal costs. Grant’s hearing was indefinitely adjourned by EGM.

The charges stem from comments Grant made to two Winnipeg-area newspapers in 2016 and 2017 regarding the legal battle of a now-deceased Manitoba man, James Aisaican-Chase, who challenged his red-light ticket. Grant told the newspapers that Winnipeg’s four-second amber lights are ideal only in good weather conditions and on lower-speed roads. He believes a four-second amber light often is not enough time for a vehicle to completely clear the intersection before the light turns red.

In a statement to Engineering Dimensions, David Driedger, manager, corporate relations for the City of Winnipeg, declined to make a statement about Grant’s ongoing disciplinary hearing. However, he confirmed that “the city uses four seconds as a standard amber-light duration for all signalized intersections.”

Michael Gregoire, P.Eng., director of professional standards for EGM, declined to speak in detail about Grant’s case, citing the regulator’s bylaws; however, he stated, “We are confident the panel of peers reviewing these charges will afford Mr. Grant a fair hearing.” He also noted that some of the additional charges, notably divulging confidential information and making false statements, are not related to the comments about amber lights.

In his role as chair of EGM’s appeals committee, Grant investigated and reported on a wide variety of traffic and road conditions, using the industry’s Institute of Transportation Engineers equations, safety rules imposed by insurance companies, and his 50 years of experience as a motorsports safety official and analogous situations considered by airplane and airport designers.