Audit ordered for City of Winnipeg real estate deals
Winnipeg city councillors voted unanimously on Thursday in favour of a broad audit of past city real estate deals, in an effort to restore public confidence.
The motion, presented by Coun. Jenny Gerbasi on Thursday at City Hall, comes in the wake of the controversial land swap deal involving several fire hall properties.
That deal, for the city to flip two abandoned fire halls and some land over to Shindico Realty in exchange for property on Taylor Avenue where a new fire-paramedic station has already been built, was arranged without council aware of it.
Details of the swap began to emerge after Shindico advertised a lease on one of the former fire halls, located on Grosvenor Avenue, even though the deal had not been finalized and council has yet to vote on it.
The audit ordered Thursday will review the city's "processes and policies used for all major land acquisition, sale, transfers and external leasing activities" during at least the past five years. The auditor will have the authority to go back further.
Mayor Sam Katz said he wants the audit to go back 12 years, not just five.
"They should have the ability to go right back to when the last one [audit] was done," he told reporters.
"Then we can move forward and then we can show the public exactly what it is and hopefully restore that confidence."
Katz added that he supports a plan to hire an external auditor to comb over the transactions of the city's real estate division.