Committee OK's audit on Winnipeg police HQ costs

An audit of cost overruns at the new Winnipeg police headquarters is a step closer to going ahead.
The office tower connected to the new police headquarters will need a huge injection of cash to make it marketable, according to city staff. (CBC)

An audit of cost overruns at the new Winnipeg police headquarters is a step closer to going ahead.

The city's executive policy committee voted in favour of it at a meeting on Wednesday morning — two months after city council voted against it.

Mayor Sam Katz said he expects council to approve the move next week. The audit will then be done 150 days from that date, he said. 

The costs to renovate the former Canada Post building on Graham Avenue into the police HQ have ballooned to more than $75 million over original estimates.

Coun. Paula Havixbeck and Coun. Jenny Gerbasi introduced a motion in November to run a full audit of how the project was handled, but the idea was voted down 9-7.

But the issue never went away and earlier this month, the Winnipeg Labour Council and Canadian Taxpayers Federation held a joint press conference calling for Winnipeggers to demand the audit.

The following day, Couns. Brian Mayes and Jeff Browaty, said many people contacted them to say the cost overruns were a big issue. As a result, they said they had changed their minds and would now support an audit.

Katz also jumped on board that same day, saying there was merit in an audit. In November, he had said it wasn't necessary.

On Wednesday, Coun. Justin Swandel was the only one to vote against the audit. Despite the $75-million overrun, Swandel believes the city is still on the right track, given the risks identified in the original budget.

"I think we're going to spend $500,000 of taxpayers' money [on an audit] to have somebody tell us that we're still getting extremely good value for our money," he said.