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City to audit real-estate transactions over past five years

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The City of Winnipeg will conduct an audit of real-estate transactions over at least the past five years in an effort to restore public confidence, city council decided Thursday morning.

In the wake of continuing questions about the city's contentious fire-paramedic station replacement program, council voted unanimously to ask city auditors to review real-estate sales, transfers, acquisitions and leases, going back at least five years.

Coun. Jenny Gerbasi (Fort Rouge) authored the motion, which was debated on the floor of council after rules were suspended to allow it to be heard.

City auditors will decide which transactions to scrutinize. The audit will not replace the ongoing review of the fire-paramedic station replacement program and the proposed swap of two old fire halls and a parcel of Fort Rouge land for the Shindico Realty-owned site of the new fire-paramedic Station No. 12.

Councillors also cited the 2009 Parker land swap, the proposed sale of the downtown surface lot known as Parcel Four and the Winnipeg Police Service headquarters replacement as other projects that could be reviewed.

Gerbasi proposed the audit cover the past five years. St. Norbert Coun. Justin Swandel proposed it go back a decade, into the Glen Murray administration, to remove politics from the debate.

"A minimum of five years" was reached as a compromise.

Join Free Press reporters Bartley Kives and Dan Lett at the September city council meeting this morning at 9:30 a.m., where some councillors plan to pepper Mayor Sam Katz and other EPC councillors with questions about the City of Winnipeg’s real estate transaction. Expect to hear about the fire-paramedic station replacement program during Question Period.

Actual council agenda items include a proposal to look into lowering residential speed limits to 40 km/h and the approval of a new Portage Avenue commercial development called Westport Festival, near Assiniboia Downs.

 

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Updated on Thursday, September 27, 2012 at 11:59 AM CDT: updates with decision regarding real-estate transaction audit

1:39 PM: adds video reaction

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