The City of Winnipeg has refused to allow two Winnipeg media outlets access to engineering reports about the shuttered Civic Centre Parkade.
In August, the city shuttered the 46-year-old parkade due to structural concerns, citing potential safety issues. Within days, both the Winnipeg Free Press and radio station CJOB -- acting independently from each other -- filed freedom-of-information requests seeking access to engineering reports.
In a letter dated Sept. 28, the city denied the Free Press request for structural inspection reports for the parkade, dating back to 2009, when the Winnipeg Parking Authority’s business plan called for the structure to be repaired.
The city denied the Free Press request, claiming the information fell under the "advice to government" exemption and could also harm the city’s "economic and other interests." A similar request filed by CJOB was also denied, the radio station reported.
Up until 2010, the Civic Centre Parkade was earmarked for $6.2 million worth of repairs. In 2011, council voted to reserve $2 million from the $24-million sale of the Winnipeg Square Parkade for waterproofing and concrete work.
The same year, a parkade inspection report by structural engineering firm Crosier Kilgour & Partners, obtained by the Free Press, pegged the cost of a long-term renovation at $11.3 million. Such a job would only extend the life of the parkade by 15 years, the engineers said in the report.
So in 2011, the Winnipeg Parking Authority asked council for $606,000 to conduct emergency concrete and shoring work to allow the parkade to last another five years, or at least as long as the police service would need to use the Public Safety Building.
Although council didn't approve the funds until this year, the emergency work began ahead of schedule in 2011, St. James Coun. Scott Fielding said in August.
The city sank approximately $130,000 into the crumbling parkade in 2011 and planned to spend another $90,000 this year before another inspection led to the structure being closed, Fielding said.
This summer, engineers were surprised to see how badly the parkade had deteriorated and recommended it be closed, said Randy Topolniski, the Winnipeg Parking Authority’s chief operating officer.