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Senior administrators accused of dodging real estate audit questions

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Auditors found civic officials failed to undertake a ‘comprehensive procurement process’ when buying the Canada Post building on Graham Avenue in 2009.

WAYNE GLOWACKI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

Auditors found civic officials failed to undertake a ‘comprehensive procurement process’ when buying the Canada Post building on Graham Avenue in 2009. Photo Store

Senior administrators are being accused of refusing to answer questions surrounding the EY audit into real estate transactions.

Coun. Paula Havixbeck said she learned this morning that senior administrative staff will not be at Wednesday’s special council meeting, despite her request they be there to explain their actions in the handling of several real estate deals.

"They just want to sweep it under the rug," Havixbeck (Charleswood-Tuxedo) said. "They don’t want to come to the meeting to answer to what they did."

The EY audit examined 33 real estate transactions over the past five years and concluded that unnamed senior administrators had failed to comply with the city’s procedures and policies on major deals, which in many cases benefitted local developers.

The forensic auditors are the same individuals from EY who produced last fall’s scathing report on the fire-paramedic station replacement program.

Among the conclusions of last week’s audit, the EY auditors said that land valuations for the Winnipeg Square parkade and Parcel Four were kept from city council; the Parker land swap was a "rush job"; the expropriation of the Midtown car wash was unnecessary; and, the city failed to obtain an independent appraisal of the Canada Post building or seriously consider other locations for the new police headquarters.

Havixbeck said there appeared to be a consensus at a closed-door meeting of council last week, where the EY audit was first presented to councillors, that the EY team and senior administrators would attend the special council meeting.

Havixbeck said the council meeting was put over for a week specifically to allow time for administration to attend.

"It’s clear attempt to minimize the importance of the audit are continuing," she said.

Havixbeck later attended a meeting of executive policy committee after the audit was presented to the councillors and formally requested that members of the audit team and administration be at the special council meeting.

But Mayor Sam Katz only committed to holding a special council meeting and having the EY team attend.

Havixbeck said city clerk Richard Kachur informed her in an email this morning that only members from EY will be at Wednesday’s special council meeting.

Kacher states in his email that if members of council want the administrators there, there has to be a two-thirds support of council for a motion to request they be there.

aldo.santin@freepress.mb.ca

History

Updated on Wednesday, July 9, 2014 at 1:18 PM CDT: Corrects typo

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