City interviewed nearly 70 employees during inspectors investigation
Some employees offered valid reasons for irregular work hours, department says
As part of an investigation into allegations building inspectors are slacking off on the job the City of Winnipeg has interviewed nearly 70 employees, a department head said Tuesday.
John Kiernan, director of planning, property and development, told its committee each employee was asked about 40 questions by members of Winnipeg's labour relations and human resources department.
The interviews shed light on why some employees worked irregular hours but not all, Kiernan said.
"Some start at 7 a.m. some start at 8:30 a.m. and there's a range within there," he said.
"There is context coming to light around some of the allegations, but we absolutely don't want to bury our heads on this," he said. "There does seem to be reasonable cause for further investigation."
On April 4, the city's top bureaucrat, Doug McNeil, ordered an internal investigation after the Winnipeg Free Press published the results of a private investigation financed by an unknown group that tailed 17 city building inspectors. CBC received the package of information but has not verified any of the material.
Kiernan did not offer an explanation why private detectives tracked some employees to Costco or lengthy meal breaks at licensed restaurants.
After the investigation is complete, it's possible the public will never know whether any employees were penalized or fired to protect privacy.
"Some of this will remain confidential," Kiernan said.
Coun. Brian Mayes, chair of the property and planning committee, is satisfied with the progress of the investigation.
"It sounds like they're getting after it pretty seriously," he said.
"Occasionally you get someone calling up saying 'my restaurant opens and we haven't heard back.' I could probably come up with a half dozen examples like that but by and large no, this wasn't something people had been coming to me with."
Mayes, city councillor for St. Vital, has served on the committee since November 2018.
On Thursday Mayes and other members of city council will vote on a motion to request a written report about the allegations facing building inspectors.