Councillors fear audit on police HQ won't be done on time

A contract to audit cost overruns on the construction of Winnipeg's new police headquarters has not been awarded yet, despite a looming deadline.

Company awarded contract has not yet begun audit as deadline looms

Two city councillors, Scott Fielding and Jeff Browaty, said they are worried an audit into cost overruns on the construction of Winnipeg police headquarters won't be done on time. (CBC)

A contract to audit cost overruns on the construction of Winnipeg's new police headquarters has not been awarded yet, despite a looming deadline.

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.

City councillors voted for an external audit at the end of January and set a deadline of 150 days for completion.

The goal was to have the audit done before the last council meeting of the summer on July 16 and ahead of serious campaigning for the municipal election Oct. 22. 

City auditor Brian Whiteside said a company has been chosen to do the work but a contract won't be awarded until Winnipeg's police service completes security checks.

The name of the company selected has not been released.

That leaves less than 90 days to review a project that is millions of dollars over budget, involves thousands of documents and dozens of contractors, trades and project managers.

St. James-Brooklands Coun. Scott Fielding said he doubts the audit will be done by the deadline, which falls in the later half of June.

"It's really hard to believe that the report's going to be done," he said Wednesday. "I've got some grave concern whether it can be done in 90 days. Obviously we were hoping it would get done before the term of council is up and the elections are obviously in October."

Fielding said the report could be a political football at election time, depending on its contents.

North Kildonan Coun. Jeff Browaty said in an email he, too, is concerned the deadline will be missed. 

"Obviously I'm disappointed it's taken this long to award and I hope and expect it will be awarded without haste at this point," he said. "I'm concerned [about] the timing, but I expect that the original terms made it clear results would be needed quickly. But I am concerned the deadlines will be missed." 

St. Vital Coun. Brian Mayes said he's not sure whether the deadline will be missed. 

"I think everyone on council thought we could get it done in 150 days," he said. "And maybe we still can. But if not,  let's certainly get it done before the election."

Mayor Sam Katz's spokesperson, Brad Salyn, said however, the work should be done on time. 

"Until we have been notified otherwise by the auditor, it is our expectation he will follow council’s direction and have this work completed on time and on budget as voted on in January," Salyn said in an email. 

Salyn said council voted to support the audit with funding of up to $500,000 to help the city auditor meet the deadline. 

In a separate review, city council also voted back in January to have a company evaluate whether the city got value for the money spent on the police headquarters, and awarded a $165,000 contract for a "quantity surveyor." 

Salyn said that work is expected to be completed earlier than the audit.