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External audit into fire-paramedic station program still not completed

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Fire Hall No. 11,  located a Portage Avenue at the Route 90 overpass.

KEN GIGLIOTTI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS ARCHIVES Enlarge Image

Fire Hall No. 11, located a Portage Avenue at the Route 90 overpass. Photo Store

The review into Winnipeg’s fire-paramedic station replacement program has yet to be completed and it may be weeks or months before the findings of an external auditor are made public.

The city hired Ernst & Young LLP to review the troubled construction of four new fire-paramedic stations, including the new station No. 12 on Taylor Avenue and the new Station No. 11 on Portage Avenue. The Taylor Avenue station was built on land the city does not own and was slated to be the subject of a three-for-one land swap. The Portage Avenue station, still under construction inside a cloverleaf at Route 90, was plagued by cost overruns.

Widespread council anger over the lack of disclosure about the program – as well as concerns city processes were not followed – led council to order an external review initially slated to be completed in May.

City auditor Brian Whiteside said today he has yet to receive the review. He said his department will go through it closely before it is released.

"We have to dot the Is and cross the Ts, because we know this is going to be subject to extreme scrutiny," Whiteside said in an interview. "It has to be a quality product."

The $230,000 review will cover the initial impetus for building the new stations, the way contracts were awarded, the value of the work for taxpayers and all processes, controls and policies involved in the program. Ernst & Young has also been asked to make recommendations and suggest disciplinary action, if needed.

The city has also ordered up a broader audit of major real-estate transactions.

 

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