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Audit ordered on controversial city traffic projects

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Allegations that public works projects were mismanaged and potentially wasted millions of taxpayer dollars will be the subject of a city audit.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 24/02/2022 (342 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Allegations that public works projects were mismanaged and potentially wasted millions of taxpayer dollars will be the subject of a city audit.

On Thursday, council unanimously ordered the city’s auditor to investigate the allegations linked to intersection signal infrastructure, which were revealed by the Winnipeg Free Press.

Prior to the vote, Mayor Brian Bowman told media he would support the audit to help “ensure that taxpayers’ interests are being protected going forward.”

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES The city council unanimously ordered the city’s auditor to investigate the allegations linked to intersection signal infrastructure, which were revealed by the Winnipeg Free Press.

The mayor said it’s important not to rush to judgment about the claims, while ensuring the city’s independent auditor has all the information needed to properly assess the allegations.

“Everyone has a civic duty to provide any and all information that could be helpful in reviewing how dollars are spent at city hall,” said Bowman.

The city auditor is expected to produce a preliminary report within four months.

While council was to vote on the matter next month, they suspended the rules to allow for the vote on Thursday.

Coun. Matt Allard, the chairperson of council’s public works committee, said the city probe should help determine if waste and mismanagement occurred. If it did, the audit should offer ways to prevent problems from being repeated, he said.

Christian Sweryda, a researcher known for his extensive study of City of Winnipeg traffic issues, raised the allegations. He claims “frivolous” public works projects have racked up a major tab for taxpayers. For example, Sweryda said some traffic-control devices were replaced well before the end of their useful lives and the orientation of some pedestrian lights was altered for no clear reason.

Coun. Brian Mayes said he supports the call to explore the allegations but cautioned it could cost the city “hundreds of thousands of dollars” to review all of the information Sweryda gathered.

Mayes stressed that city staff must not be judged before all the information is assessed. For example, he noted that not all engineers share the same views on traffic-control techniques, which could affect the outcome of project decisions.

“Different individuals have different views. It doesn’t always mean there’s a scandal or there’s incompetence,” he said.

Joyanne.pursaga@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @joyanne_pursaga

Joyanne Pursaga

Joyanne Pursaga
Reporter

Born and raised in Winnipeg, Joyanne loves to tell the stories of this city, especially when politics is involved. Joyanne became the city hall reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press in early 2020.

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