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Consultants must be in town to release fire hall land swap audit: auditor

Posted: 10/11/2013 1:16 PM | Comments: 0

Last Modified: 10/11/2013 1:53 PM | Updates

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Fire-paramedic chief Reid Douglas (left) was fired before a review into a scandal is made public. City CAO Phil Sheegl may be the next to go, some say.

KEN GIGLIOTTI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS ARCHIVES Enlarge Image

Fire-paramedic chief Reid Douglas (left) was fired before a review into a scandal is made public. City CAO Phil Sheegl may be the next to go, some say. Photo Store

A long-awaited audit of the controversial fire hall construction program and the accompanying land swap has been completed -- but won’t be released until the consultants who wrote it can be in Winnipeg.

City auditor Brian Whiteside has notified Mayor Sam Katz, the city clerk’s office and some councillors that the only hold-up now in its release is having staff from consulting firm Ernst & Young LLP in Winnipeg to present it.

"I am waiting the selection date so E&Y can confirm their availability to travel to Winnipeg to attend the meetings," the email from Whiteside states.

Many councillors believed the audit of the scandal-ridden $17.8 million fire station construction program and the accompanying land swap was expected to be released Thursday.

When that didn’t happen, councillors contacted Whiteside, wanting to know the reason for the delay.

Some observers believe the findings of the report cost former fire chief Reid Douglas his job, and that and other senior city execs will follow him once it’s been released.

Coun. Paula Havixbeck said yesterday she was told the report will be presented to a special council seminar, followed by its public release at a special meeting of the executive policy committee and then a special council meeting.

The audit was sparked by a council revolt at how the contracts for four new fire stations were structured and awarded – seemingly in a manner designed to avoid council scrutiny – and a deal arranged in part by Reid to trade three surplus pieces of city land to developer Shindico for the land where one of the stations was built, on Taylor Avenue.

That land swap was cancelled by council, but the Taylor fire hall land still belongs to Shindico.

E&Y looked at the initial decision to build the four new fire stations, scrutinized the way the contracts for the facilities were awarded, assessed the value for money received by taxpayers, and examined all processes, controls and policies involved in the program.

E&Y were also asked to make recommendations to city hall and to suggest disciplinary action, if required.

aldo.santin@freepress.mb.ca

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Updated on Friday, October 11, 2013 at 1:53 PM CDT: corrects typo

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