Phil Sheegl quits job as Winnipeg’s CAO
Published Thursday, October 17, 2013 10:05AM CST
Last Updated Thursday, October 17, 2013 6:13PM CST
Winnipeg's chief administrative officer has resigned just days before the release of a controversial fire hall audit.
Members of the mayor's cabinet accepted Phil Sheegl's resignation in a secret closed door meeting.
Mayor Sam Katz said he does not know why his friend Sheegl quit.
"I think that a lot of people have been under a lot of pressure some people have different limitations,” said Katz. "I don't spend a lot of time with Mr. Sheegl, unfortunately. I have a young family. I'm busy here, so the realities are we have a CAO who has resigned.”
But some around city hall suspect they know why Sheegl quit.
Along with former fire chief Reid Douglas, Sheegl was a key player involved in the construction of four new fire halls.
Cost overruns emerged and a questionable land swap deal saw a new station built on land the city did not own.
The city fired Douglas last month.
The audit into the fire hall deals is slated for release on Oct. 21.
"This audit must be really, really bad, if a key employee can just depart right on the heels of this coming forward next week,” said Coun. Paula Havixbeck (Charleswood – Tuxedo).
Sheegl issued a letter to city staff on his resignation. In it, he mentions the fire halls.
“Despite so much negativity regarding the construction of four new fire paramedic stations, they, too, are an important accomplishment and a vital component of modern emergency services for Winnipeg families, especially in growing neighbourhoods like Sage Creek, where response times have been drastically improved,” wrote Sheegl.
A motion to fire Sheegl had made its way onto the floor for council consideration this month.
“I'm actually glad he resigned. I didn't relish moving a motion to dismiss him. It's my impression that he finally realized that the majority of council has no trust or confidence in him,” said Coun. Ross Eadie (Mynarski).
The city's chief operating officer Deepak Joshi has stepped in as interim CAO.
Mayor Katz said Sheegl would not have been a political liability for him and went as far as to say he will win re-election next year, if he decides to run.
Coun. Havixbeck worries that with both Douglas and Sheegl now gone, there will be no one to hold accountable for the handling of the fire halls, once the audit is released.
- with a report from Jeff Keele
Full letter from Phil Sheegl to City of Winnipeg staff
Mayor Katz and Members of Council
This is to advise that I am resigning as the CAO of the City of Winnipeg after nearly six years of public service.
Though it has been a trying year from many perspectives and for many public servants, especially those on the senior management team, I leave with a sense of thankfulness for their tireless efforts in serving the citizens of Winnipeg capably, conscientiously, and well. Together, we have accomplished a great deal for our City – in improving public planning, infrastructure, amenities, services, and safety – and are collectively proud of:
• Completing the Disraeli Bridges Project, the largest in Winnipeg history, on-time and on-budget;
• Completing the Chief Peguis Trail extension, on-budget and one year ahead of schedule;
• Nearing completion of the consolidated new HQ for the Winnipeg Police Service;
• Completion of the first stage of the Southwest Transitway, and continued progress on Rapid and Active Transportation networks;
• Partnering in a revitalized Sports, Hospitality and Entertainment District downtown;
• Provision of enhanced recreational opportunities for inner-city children and youth; and,
• Consultation and preparation of OurWinnipeg, the City’s long-term plan for the future.
Despite so much negativity regarding the construction of four new fire paramedic stations, they, too, are an important accomplishment and a vital component of modern emergency services for Winnipeg families, especially in growing neighbourhoods like Sage Creek, where response times have been drastically improved. They are equally important projects in communities where antiquated stations were no longer suitable places for our firefighters to live and work.
Throughout my time as CAO, my purpose and focus has always been to approach every task in a constructive, positive way, and work to ensure the success of all our civic projects. I am glad to have had the opportunity to see so many important projects realized.
To my family, friends and colleagues who have supported me throughout these years of being in the public arena and the focus of endless media attention, I thank them for their constant encouragement.
As for my time at the City of Winnipeg, I would like to thank the Mayor and so many Councillors and staff who made my time both meaningful and productive. Winnipeg is and always has been my home, and I wish everyone the best, moving forward.
Phil Sheegl's resignation comes two weeks after the city turfed its fire chief Reid Douglas. (file image)