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Fire hall changes were thoroughly discussed: Katz

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The fire hall on Route 90 and Portage under construction.

BORIS MINKEVICH / FREE PRESS FILES Enlarge Image

The fire hall on Route 90 and Portage under construction.

Mayor Sam Katz is no longer concerned that the administration claims there is no documentation to support the major design change of the new Route 90 fire station.

The design change is one of the reasons cited for the fire hall replacement program being more than $3 million over budget.

When Katz learned last week there was no paper trail on the change, he said was surprised and assured reporters there should be documentation somewhere.

The absence of documentation was revealed last week by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, which had filed a Freedom of Information request seeking all documentation — including emails, memos and briefing notes — involving design changes which increased the size of the Route 90 fire station by 40 per cent.

The Route 90 station was one of four new fire halls constructed by local developer Shindico Realty. The entire project was the subject of an audit which found the program had been badly mismanaged and that Shindico was provided information not given to any other developer bidding for the projects.

The administration told the CTF that the paperwork didn’t exist.

"If there is a change of that extent, there should be something somewhere, absolutely," Katz told reporters following last week’s executive policy committee meeting. "I’m certainly going to ask the question."

A week later, Katz said he was satisfied the design changes had occurred after discussions had taken place.

In reply to a question during today’s council meeting from Coun. Paula Havixbeck, Katz said there had been "a very thorough dialogue" about possibly including a museum into the new fire hall or an additional ladder truck.

"I’m certain someone doing an addition on their home would have something in writing," Havixbeck (Charleswood-Tuxedo) said.

Katz said the design changes were subsequently made based on discussions on the need to have training out of that station.

"This is dialogue. It is on the record," Katz said.

And the controversial fire hall replacement program keeps popping up all over council meetings, when Havixbeck reminded council colleagues earlier today that the Taylor Avenue fire station has been open for almost two years but the city has yet to buy the land it was built on from developer Shindico Realty.

When Havixbeck asked for an update on the negotiations, property and development chairman Coun. Jeff Browaty said an announcement would be coming soon.

City officials originally planned to swap city land for the Taylor property and authorized construction to begin before the deal could be completed. However, council killed the swap when they learned of it and that triggered the external audit into the entire fire hall replacement program.

 

aldo.santin@freepress.mb.ca

History

Updated on Wednesday, January 29, 2014 at 3:34 PM CST: Adds info about the Taylor fire hall.

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