Convention centre chair says options for EPC are 'bad and worse'
Convention centre chair Bob Silver says councillors will have two options to choose from: Bad and worse.
Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman's executive policy committee has voted to layover any decisions related to interactions that took place between CentreVenture Development Corporation and RBC Convention Centre Winnipeg.
The EPC agreed they need a special meeting to get more information before they make any decisions.
The vote came after a heated debate at Winnipeg City Hall on Wednesday morning, which began with an apology from the chair of the convention centre board, Bob Silver.
"I'm sorry it's come to this," he said to members of an EPC that is new and almost unrecognizable from the one that served when former Winnipeg Mayor Sam Katz was in office.
Silver expressed regret that city councillors would have to make a rushed decision.
Silver urged the EPC to accept a $3.75 million penalty on construction firm Stuart Olson's failure to find a hotel for RBC Convention Centre Winnipeg.
A protracted legal battle with Stuart Olson on penalty means "nobody would be served," Silver said.
The mayor's priority throughout the meeting was to get the necessary information to piece together what exactly happened.
On Tuesday, CBC News learned that Canad Inns owns 11% of both the St.Regis Hotel and the former Carlton Inn in downtown Winnipeg, even though it never used its own money to acquire the stake in the two CentreVenture-owned hotels.
The company was asked to be involved in the deal by CentreVenture so it could help avoid detrimental tax impacts the owners of the hotels would have to pay.
Bowman said he and city council had no idea about that arrangement.
In a statement issued Tuesday afternoon, CentreVenture's board of directors said it has kept the city and the provincial government in the loop regarding its transactions.
"Let's see what the community has to offer on the Carlton land," Bowman said on Wednesday, adding he has major concerns about transparency.
Angela Mathieson, president and CEO of CentreVenture was late for the EPC meeting on Wednesday but arrived in time to speak after Silver.
She said that communication [between the City of Winnipeg and CentreVenture] could have been better. She went on to ask for more time to make the hotel development work, adding CentreVenture has a "bold plan for the SHED district and the Carlton property."
Mathieson said CentreVenture was keeping people at the city up to date,but perhaps it didn't make it to councillors.
Councillor Marty Morantz says he has 'huge huge problems' with how CentreVenture purchased the Carlton Inn property.
Morantz said he was not sure that Stuart Olson has done everything to meet its obligations before he announced that he would not vote to release the Stuart Olson holdback of $16 million.
As the meeting progressed, issues regarding the interaction between the developing corporation and the convention centre continued to come to light, even on social media.
The mayor's office pointed out via Twitter what they are calling a "serious concern," — CentreVenture has the option agreement signed while the convention centre still has a contract to build a hotel with the developer.
Councillor Jeff Browaty summarized the city's stance in the matter in a statement he made two hours after the meeting began:
"Kind of mind-blowing how much we didn't know was going on," he said.