Two city councillors have changed their minds on a proposed audit of cost overruns of the new Winnipeg Police Service headquarters and say they will now support a motion to conduct an audit, and even Mayor Sam Katz says he'll now support a review.
St. Vital Coun. Brian Mayes and North Kildonan Coun. Jeff Browaty, both members of council's executive policy committee, said Tuesday many Winnipeggers have told them the cost overruns are a big issue.
Mayes and Browaty said they will now vote to support an upcoming motion calling for an audit.
They had previously voted against reviewing the project, but Mayes said it's time to find out what happened.
"A lot of people who were prepared to bless this project in 2011 are now calling for an audit. So my view is, 'Fine, let's get on with the audit,'" he said.
"We got other things we're dealing with here, other good work we're doing that isn't getting attention. So let's deal with the audit and move on."
Browaty agreed, saying conducting an audit will get to the bottom of concerns constituents have been calling about.
"Whether it's at the Christmas table or with friends and family or … just at Timmies or at the grocery store, it's certainly, I think, the top of mind item," he said.
Costs ballooned to $75M over estimates
Back in November, a motion by councillors Jenny Gerbasi and Paula Havixbeck to order a full audit of the project was defeated by a vote of nine to seven.
Mayes and Browaty now say they will now vote in favour of an audit when a motion is brought to the next council meeting Jan. 29.
"I want proof out there so that we can … look our residents in the eye," said Browaty.
"There were definitely perhaps some things that got bungled in it. That will still come out through an audit, but we can look them in the eye and say we still got good value for money for our residents."
At the time of the November vote, Katz said an audit was not necessary because council already has most of the answers it needs about the process and the costs overruns.
But on Tuesday, Katz said he will support a motion calling for an audit.
"There's merit in doing it," he said.
"There's a lot of people who think it won't accomplish anything, that it's not going to get bang for its buck. But it appears unless you do it, there's people [that are] going to continue to ask questions or make assumptions that could be inaccurate."
Representatives with the Canadian Taxpayers Federation and the Winnipeg Labour Council, which have teamed up to demand an audit, called the two councillors' change of mind a victory for citizens and taxpayers.