RCMP to review audits into city real estate deals
Published Friday, August 15, 2014 10:42AM CST
Last Updated Friday, August 15, 2014 5:55PM CST
Several controversial real estate deals by the City of Winnipeg will undergo a review by the RCMP.
Manitoba Justice referred reports on real estate management, the new police headquarters construction project and a report on new fire station construction to RCMP.
The reports concluded the city showed favouritism in the bidding process, broke rules and policies with little oversight, resulting in projects going millions of dollars over budget.
Police will review the reports and launch any investigations they deem appropriate, the province said in a release.
Last month, city council asked the province to review two of the audits, one involving the $75 million in cost overruns with the new police headquarters and another that probed several controversial property transactions
The Department of Justice says they've done that and asked the RCMP to review those reports as well as another audit into how the city built a fire station on land it does not own.
"There are things that emerge that would benefit from a review of the RCMP," said Greg Graceffo of Manitoba Justice.
Justice officials won't say if they found any wrongdoing. The RCMP says it will review all of the audits and determine whether an investigation is necessary.
"I think this is a good day for the citizens of Winnipeg, because they will now know if there was any wrongdoing," said Paula Havixbeck, city councillor for Charleswood.
"Let's restore the public trust, because frankly the citizens of Winnipeg don't trust any of us, because it's been tainted," said Ross Eadie, city councillor for Mynarski.
Auditors pointed a lot of the blame at former city CAO Phil Sheegl, a friend of Mayor Sam Katz.
"I don't think we should have had a friend of the mayor as CAO," said Brian Mayes, councillor for St. Vital.
The mayor released a statement
"The province has made their decision and chosen to exercise their right to refer to the RCMP, and all of council would support their decision, and I hope this brings closure," he said.
But Finance Chair Russ Wyatt wants more than closure. He says a police probe does not go far enough and wants a provincial inquiry.
"I've read the audits. I've read all three more than once, and they're extremely disturbing," said Wyatt.
It's unclear if charges will come out of all of this. None of the audits found any evidence of criminal wrongdoing.
The RCMP did not put a time frame on how long it will take to review the documents.
- With a report by Jeff Keele