Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Consultants must appear when report released

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THE review of the controversial fire-hall construction and land swap is complete but won't be released until the consultants who wrote it can be in Winnipeg.

City auditor Brian Whiteside notified Mayor Sam Katz, the city clerk and some councillors Friday that the only thing holding up its release is having staff from consulting firm Ernst & Young LLP in Winnipeg to present it.

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"I am waiting the selection date so E&Y can confirm their availability to travel to Winnipeg to attend the meetings," the email from Whiteside states.

Many councillors believed the review of the $17.8-million fire-station construction program and the accompanying land swap was to be released Thursday.

When that didn't happen, councillors contacted Whiteside wanting to know the reason for the delay.

Katz issued a written statement Friday, saying arrangements will be made to hold a council seminar on the review.

"Logistics are being worked out now and as soon as arrangements are made, councillors will receive an invitation to a council seminar," Katz said.

Ernst & Young looked at the initial decision to build the four new fire stations, scrutinize the way the contracts for the facilities were awarded, assess the value for money taxpayers received, and examine all processes, controls and policies involved in the program.

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

Many believe the findings of the review cost former fire chief Reid Douglas his job and other senior city executives will follow him once it's been released.

Coun. Paula Havixbeck said this week she was told the review will be presented to a special council seminar, followed by its public release.

The external review was sparked by a council revolt over how the contracts for four new fire stations were structured and awarded -- seemingly in a manner designed to avoid council scrutiny -- and a deal arranged in part by Reid to trade three surplus pieces of city land to developer Shindico for the land on which one of the stations was built, on Taylor Avenue.

That land swap was cancelled by council but the Taylor fire-hall land still belongs to Shindico.

aldo.santin@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 12, 2013 A4

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