Council OKs $2.3M to cover fire hall cost overruns
Winnipeg city council has voted to spend $2.3 million to cover cost overruns for the construction of a partially built fire hall on Portage Avenue.
For some councillors, it was a "hold the nose and vote yes" kind of situation as they approved the additional spending Wednesday afternoon to cover extra costs related to adding a 3,500 square-foot expansion at Fire Station No. 11.
The extra spending was recommended by the executive policy committee last week, but councillors have been asking questions about the project, such as why the expansion got the green light without council approval, and why the work is now over budget.
On Wednesday, some councillors said they still don't really know what the extra money is for, and who really ordered the changes to the scope of the project.
Fire and paramedic Chief Reid Douglas told the city's protection committee last month that rising construction costs and project delays drove up the costs of the Portage Avenue project.
Station 11, under construction near the Route 90 and Portage Avenue cloverleaf, is part of a larger land swap deal that is being reviewed by external auditors.
Douglas, head of Winnipeg's Fire Paramedic Service, is in the middle of that controversy as well for arranging a verbal agreement with local developer Shindico on the land swap.
On Wednesday, council delayed a decision on whether to declare three properties related to the land swap — two former fire halls and a parcel of riverfront land — as surplus, instead sending the matter back to the property committee.
Mayor Sam Katz took Douglas off the Station 11 project last month amid controversy about the Portage Avenue fire hall expansion, and put the city's property and planning department in charge of the job.
A report presented to the city claims that Douglas changed the scope of the project and had the authority to do so.