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Bowman dedicates end of term to police HQ court case

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In his final months as mayor, Brian Bowman is promising to seek accountability for the over-budget and hotly criticized Winnipeg Police Service headquarters construction project.

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In his final months as mayor, Brian Bowman is promising to seek accountability for the over-budget and hotly criticized Winnipeg Police Service headquarters construction project.

During his final “state of the city” address Wednesday, Bowman told the crowd of about 900 gathered at the RBC Convention Centre he will continue to focus on addressing “one of the biggest scandals in Winnipeg’s history.”

“According to the court, (it) involved bribery and a breach of trust and a breach of loyalty. We need to ensure that everyone that should be held accountable is held accountable. Our residents’ trust and confidence in government itself is at stake — which is why I will spend every remaining day in office defending taxpayers and demanding accountability. And it’s why our next mayor and council must absolutely see this through,” he said.

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman talks to media after his last State of the City speech at the RBC Convention Centre Wednesday in which he promised to focus on “one of the biggest scandals in Winnipeg’s history.”

Serious allegations linked to the police HQ at 266 Graham Ave. have plagued city council for years. The building opened in June 2016 at a cost of about $214 million, well above its original $135-million price tag.

An external audit found the project was severely mismanaged. The RCMP conducted a lengthy investigation into fraud and forgery allegations, but no criminal charges were laid.

Bowman, who is not seeking a third term in the Oct. 26 civic election, told media he remains devoted to getting to the bottom of the issue.

“We’ve seen one legal win that’s been significant but the larger action is still going to unfold, (which) is much more significant in terms of dollars than what we’ve seen right now. There is the possibility that additional parties could be added by our legal team (as defendants) if it’s warranted and if it’s appropriate and that’s something that I’ll certainly support,” he said, after the speech.

“It could be members of the public service… or former members of council… (depending on) where the evidence and where the facts and the legal position (indicates) that it’s appropriate and that it’s warranted.”

In a civil court decision, Court of Queen’s Bench Chief Justice Glenn Joyal ruled the city’s former chief administrative officer, Phil Sheegl, accepted a bribe from a key contractor on the project. The court later ordered Sheegl to pay the city nearly $1.1 million.

Sheegl’s lawyer has since appealed the ruling, claiming the decision is “clearly wrong and amounts to an injustice.”

The decision stems from a civil suit the City of Winnipeg launched in 2020, which alleged a fraudulent scheme took place and named many other defendants. The civil suit was later split up, and the city is still pursuing legal action against the other parties.

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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