Winnipeg city council approves $17M police HQ cost overruns
Councillors call for audit of Winnipeg police headquarter project that is now nearly 60% over budget
City council has rubber-stamped more than $17 million in cost overruns on the new police headquarters in Winnipeg.
The vote split councillors 12 to 4 and saw heated debate over what should be done about the project.
The project, which will see the new Winnipeg Police Service headquarters land on Graham Avenue, is now nearly 60 per cent over its original budget.
Some councillors called for an audit of the process, but Coun. Russ Wyatt believed those calls for an audit were politically motivated.
“I think part of this is political, but I think part of it is also the fact that we are dealing with, still, the fallout of the individual who was hired, who at the time I did not support,” said Wyatt.
Wyatt was referring to former City of Winnipeg CAO Phil Sheegl, who was implicated in the project’s management after he resigned from the city.
Less than two weeks after Sheegl resigned, a damning audit of a fire hall land swap deal was released, placing the large part of the blame for a mismanaged deal on Sheegl’s shoulders.
Wyatt said he disagreed that an audit for the police headquarters was needed, as it would only confirm that the project was badly managed and it would cost the city a lot of money.
Coun. Paula Havixbeck disagrees. She said taxpayers need the information an audit would uncover.
“Something went really wrong here on this, and it’s 60 per cent of a cost overrun. Who knew what when?” she said.
Havixbeck was the subject of a sharply worded letter from the city’s acting CAO Deepak Joshi, who was upset the councillor suggested there may have been corruption involved in the police headquarter building contracts.
The $17.2 million in cost overruns that were approved by council on Wednesday are in addition to $28 million of previously announced cost overruns on the project, bringing the total for the project to over $177 million.