City council votes for legal review of fire hall audit
Winnipeg city council has voted for a legal review of the fire hall audit to determine potential illegal activity by the civic administration.
The motion was introduced by Coun. Dan Vandal on Wednesday.
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He wants to see the entire audit, that examined a controversial land swap deal that involved fire halls, sent to an outside law office that specializes in the law of competitive public tendering process to see if there's anything legally wrong with what occurred at the city.
He urged other councillors to vote for that motion.
"I think it's incumbent on us as elected officials and leaders of the city to go that extra step to begin to continue the rebuilding of public confidence in city hall," Vandal told council.
The audit, conducted by Ernst and Young, did not detect anything illegal, but the report did find contracts were awarded to development company Shindico on a non-competitive basis and deliberate moves were made to keep the deal out of the hands of city council.
Council also voted to make public all reports the city's executive policy committee received on the fire hall construction and land deal.
Meanwhile Phil Sheegl, the former City of Winnipeg CAO, has resigned from all civic boards on which he was a member.
Mayor Sam Katz told council on Wednesday that Sheegl sent his notice via an email on Tuesday evening.
Katz revealed the news after two councillors put forth a motion to have Sheegl removed from the board for the Winnipeg Convention Centre, Winnipeg Civic Employees Benefits Plan, Winnipeg Police Board, and BBB Stadium Inc., the non-profit organization responsible for building Investors Group Field.
Sheegl stepped down from the position of chief administrative officer for the city on Oct. 17, just four days before the damning audit was released.
The report directly implicated Sheegl in many of the issues with the fire hall deal, which had come under heavy scrutiny by councillors, the public and the media, before eventually being scrapped.
How the deal worked
The fire hall saga began in 2012 when news surfaced that former fire chief Reid Douglas had made a deal with local developer Shindico to swap three city owned pieces of land for a parcel on Taylor Avenue.
In the deal, the city would trade two vacant fire halls and a city-owned parcel of land on Mulvey Avenue for a parcel of land on Taylor, where a new fire station would be built.
City council was never notified of the deal and ended up quashing it.
By the time city council nixed the deal, though, construction on the Taylor fire hall was almost complete.
Now, a fire hall sits on land still owned by Shindico, and the city is on the hook for the price of the land.
Ernst and Young was commissioned to write the external review of the controversial deal after Mayor Sam Katz admitted mistakes had been made in the tendering process for the fire halls.
The company was tasked with finding out if the city was getting the best possible bang for its buck in the land swap, and if city practices had been followed.
But before the report could be released, Douglas was fired and Sheegl quit.
Douglas was fired in late September, but city officials have not said if it was tied to the land deal.
Sheegl had originally defended the land swap deal.