Mayor Sam Katz says it still is not clear who issued a change order to increase the size and cost of the new fire-paramedic Station No. 11 on Portage Avenue.
City council is awaiting a report about cost overruns at Station No. 11, under construction inside the northwest cloverleaf of the intersection of Portage at Route 90. In September, members of executive policy committee were told the station was as much as $2.3 million over budget.
Last week, Katz said the station had increased in size to 14,000 square feet from 10,500 square feet, but was not sure who asked for the increase in size. Katz told reporters on Wednesday morning he still is not sure who issued the change order.
"That question has been asked by myself and many councillors," Katz said. "Basically, we don’t really have a specific answer, other than the fact this is something they all believed was going to be within the budget."
Only a handful of city officials, including the fire-paramedic chief and the chief administrative officer, could have issued the change order. Katz said the answer will be revealed once the administration completes its report on Station No. 11.
"When the report comes out, the answer will be there. I think you’ll be able to be a little bit more patient and wait for the report and hopefully, you’ll have an answer," Katz said.
The mayor rejected the suggestion his friendship with CAO Phil Sheegl has impaired his ability to get answers on the fire-paramedic file.
"With all due respect, no one else, not one other media has asked me that question. You’re the only one who asked me the question," he said. "Only in your mind is that the case. It may not have anything to do with the CAO."
Political and administrative officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, have said Station No. 11 was originally supposed to house some form of museum. When that was rejected, a plan emerged to move a hazardous materials unit from Station No. 9 in St. Boniface.
That plan was heavily criticized due to the need for a haz-mat unit to remain in close proximity to rail lines, highways and heavy industry in St. Boniface. The city is now considering a plan to move a decontamination unit from Station No. 7 in The Maples, although the Winnipeg Fire-Paramedic Service’s decontamination equipment is stored on McPhillips Street.