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Fire-paramedic review to be presented next week

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Winnipeg's long-awaited fire-paramedic review will finally see the light of day next week.

Mayor Sam Katz has called a special meeting of council's executive policy committee on the afternoon Monday, Oct. 21 to table the external review of Winnipeg's fire-paramedic station replacement program, which occupied much of city hall's attention during the tumultuous final months of 2012.

The $17.8-million fire-paramedic-station replacement program involved the construction of a new Station No. 27 on Sage Creek Road, the reconstruction of Station No. 18 on Roblin Boulevard, the replacement of Berry Street's Station No. 11 with a new station on Portage Avenue and the replacement of Grosvenor Avenue's Station No. 12 with a new station on Taylor Avenue.

Last fall, council raised questions about the way the project was procured and expressed particular concern about the new stations No. 11 and 12.

The new Station No. 11 on Portage Avenue, which remains under construction inside a cloverleaf at Route 90, was beset with cost overruns.

The new Station No. 12 on Taylor Avenue was built on land owned by Winnipeg developer Shindico Realty. That land was slated to be swapped for three city surplus properties: the old Station No. 12 on Grosvenor Avenue, the soon-to-be-decommissioned Station No. 11 on Berry Street and a parcel of vacant city land on Mulvey Avenue East in Fort Rouge.

Council cancelled the three-for-one land swap last fall and instructed city real estate managers to sell the surplus properties and negotiate the acquisition of the land on which the new Taylor Avenue fire-paramedic station is being built.

After council called an external review into the program, Ernst &Young was asked to look at the initial impetus for building all four new stations, scrutinize the way contracts for the facilities were awarded, assess the value for money received by taxpayers and examine all processes, controls and policies involved in the program.

Ernst &Young also was asked to make recommendations to the city and suggest disciplinary action, if required.

The audit was supposed to be complete in May but was beset by delays. It will be presented to council at a closed-door seminar on Monday, to be followed by a public meeting of executive policy committee at 2 p.m.

A special meeting of council will then be called for Tuesday, Oct. 22.

History

Updated on Tuesday, October 15, 2013 at 8:28 PM CDT: photo added

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