City auditor says changes to traffic infrastructure lack paper trail


Advertise with us

A report into allegations of financial mismanagement in the City of Winnipeg’s transportation division found that staff lacked written documentation to justify mass changes to traffic infrastructure in Winnipeg.

Read this article for free:


Already have an account? Log in here »

To continue reading, please subscribe:

Monthly Digital Subscription

$4.75 per week*

  • Enjoy unlimited reading on
  • Read the E-Edition, our digital replica newspaper
  • Access News Break, our award-winning app
  • Play interactive puzzles

*Billed as $19.00 plus GST every four weeks. Cancel anytime.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 08/09/2022 (198 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

A report into allegations of financial mismanagement in the City of Winnipeg’s transportation division found that staff lacked written documentation to justify mass changes to traffic infrastructure in Winnipeg.

City auditor Bryan Mansky also determined the department still does not have an asset management plan — more than a decade after a 2010 audit of the department highlighted that as cause for concern.

“The traffic signals branch lacks full documentation to support decisions on changes to the existing intersection signal infrastructure,” Mansky wrote. The report, which was made public Thursday, will be presented to the city’s executive policy committee next week.

“The traffic signals branch has not developed asset management plans for intersection signal infrastructure. The intent of an asset management plan is to outline how infrastructure investment can be directed to minimize life cycle costs… while delivering an expected level of service.”

A city spokeswoman said the department was in the process of “developing an asset management system as well as written documentation to formalize and make more efficient many operational functions” before the allegations were made public.

“This work will continue, and processes are anticipated to be implemented as per the recommendation matrix,” the spokeswoman wrote in a statement.

The investigation into the traffic signals branch was triggered by a Free Press series – Red Light, Green Light, No Oversight – in March that was based on the work of independent researcher Christian Sweryda.

Sweryda shared his research with Coun. Matt Allard, chairman of the public works committee, who was so concerned by the findings that he called for a full audit into the work practices of the department.

Mansky’s report, released six months later, makes clear on the final page that it is not an audit.

“The work performed in relation to this project does not constitute an audit conducted in accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards,” the report reads.

The methodology employed was a review of “work performed at selected intersections,” with Mansky noting the results “should not be used to draw any further conclusions.”

In regard to the issue highlighted by Sweryda — the mass switch to 15-foot traffic signals from 10-foot signals — Mansky wrote he could not “determine if the (department’s) current approach has returned the best value for the city.”

On Thursday, Allard said the report supports his serious concerns about what’s been going on within the department.

“There is very likely waste and mismanagement in the signals department given the widespread lack of documentation for such a large volume of work. I have called for standardization of signals but was disappointed to see that those standards were not ready on time at Wednesday’s public works committee,” Allard said.

“I voted against granting an extension, but my colleagues overruled me. We don’t yet have a documented standard, and the potential for more equipment being unnecessarily replaced before end of life continues. I will continue to pursue accountability for the use of tax dollars in the signals branch until we have it.”

In March, the city’s director of public works, Jim Berezowsy, told councillors at a special meeting of the finance committee – triggered by the Free Press series – that his staff had the necessary documentation to justify the department’s work practices.

Berezowsky stood by those comments Thursday, saying “verbal rationale from current staff based on professional judgement” had supported changes to traffic signal infrastructure highlighted by Sweryda’s research.

“I stand by my staff, their decisions, and my statement,” Berezowsky wrote.

The report into the traffic signals branch is one of the last tasks for Mansky who will retire Sept. 23, roughly a week after the traffic signals report goes to EPC.

Sweryda said Thursday he was shocked by what was – and was not – contained in Mansky’s report, arguing the vast majority of issues raised by his research were ignored. Where they weren’t ignored, he said, the explanations offered by the department don’t pass scrutiny.

“It’s the theme that they’ve always had, which is basically to obfuscate and delay as long as they possibly can, until enough people forget about it so they can blow it off. It’s a strategy they use. And now they’ll use this audit to say, ‘We’ve looked into it, thanks for your concern,’” Sweryda said.

“They’re whitewashing… They’re admitting there are a few issues, but they’re making it out to seem like it’s about documentation and planning, as opposed to what’s really going on, which is the burning of resources.”

Sweryda said nothing in Mansky’s report makes him reconsider his findings.

“If anything, it has given me more confidence in my position. There is nothing in there that I didn’t already know. And if they had a good excuse, we should have heard it by now… These aren’t explanations. These are just more excuses lacking any detail,” Sweryda said.

“They don’t have documentation, but they say they can explain it all verbally. But they’ll only explain it verbally internally, and nobody will repeat what these supposed explanations are. It’s so over-the-top ridiculous.”

Twitter: @rk_thorpe

Ryan Thorpe

Ryan Thorpe

Ryan Thorpe likes the pace of daily news, the feeling of a broadsheet in his hands and the stress of never-ending deadlines hanging over his head.

Report Error Submit a Tip


Advertise With Us