Drop dead, said the City to Colin Craig.
Oh, not so succinctly. But the message was clear---beat it, get lost, scram.
It took less than a dozen words to slam the door in Craig's face, lock it, bolt it, and hope he went away.
you see, is the local director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.
And more than a year ago, he politely asked the City for briefing notes,
memos, emails and any other documentation they had regarding the
process by which Winnipeg's new Fire Hall No. 11 ballooned in size to
it's present corpulent state.
that it's gargantuan in the way the Canadian Museum for Human Rights
is -- four football fields of empty space enclosed within a steel and
concrete skeleton. But it is almost half again as big as the other three
firehalls built as part of the same infrastructure replacement
Hall No. 11 is the fishiest project of the entire Sheegl-Shindico
Bid-Rigging Scandal that's consumed the public's trust in City Hall.
Built without a contract, millions of dollars over budget, so big that
nobody knew what to do with the extra space, it piqued the interest of
the Taxpayers Federation. Hence the freedom of information request.
The city replied: "In this case the records you have requested do not exist."
That, in a word, is preposterous.
the documentation is there, then Colin Craig is being stonewalled by a
city administration that's hiding something far bigger than anybody has
imagined so far.
the documentation is not there, that means somebody has swept the
records clean, wiped his fingerprints off and skipped, confident that
the city administrators will make no efforts to recover what they don't
want anybody to see, anyway.
Didn't we say it's time to call in the cops?
scoured the Ernst-and-Young audit of the firehalls fiasco, as well as
our clippings file, for clues to what the City of Winnipeg
administrators are hiding.
We uncovered the exact time period that should be flooded with the documentation the Taxpayers Federation is looking for.
Why the city administration claims they can't find a thing becomes very, very suspicious.
* In 2009 the Winnipeg Fire Department got the okay to build four new fire stations. They went looking for a suitable design.
found one in London, Ontario, and in January 2010 they signed a
contract to use the design. But already there was distinction between
the three firehalls they intended to build in Winnipeg suburbs and the
one station going up in St. James.
* The City issued a tender for fire stations based on the Ontario design. It was amended in March, 2010:
The Request for Proposals (RFP) contained herein documents the City of
Winnipeg’s (City) invitation to organizations (Bidders) to present
Proposals in accordance with the requirements identified in this RFP for the development of up to four (4) newly developed Fire Paramedic Stations (“the Project” or “WFPS Station”) for the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service (WFPS).
Specifically, the City is requesting submissions from private sector firms, individually or in consortium, for:
(a) construction (inclusive of site work) Sections A and B; and/or
(b) design, and construction (inclusive of site work) Section C;
of up to four (4) 750-930 square metre (8,000-10,000 square foot) facilities for the purpose of providing fire and paramedic service operations.
One Suburban Fire Paramedic Station in the Vicinity of 5000 Roblin Boulevard
Two Suburban Fire Paramedic Stations
- one in the vicinity of Grant Avenue and Waverley Street; and
- one in the vicinity of Bishop Grandin Boulevard and Lagimodiere Boulevard
One Core Fire Paramedic Station in the vicinity of Portage Avenue and Berry Street
As the auditors noted:
less than a month of issuing the...RFP, the City issued amendments ...
that called for the construction of 3 suburban stations based on the
M&M design and the design and construction of an urban station Portage – Station #11."
In short, the suburban stations would be built on the Ontario design while Fire Station #11 would be designed separately.
June, 2010. Only Shindico bid on the tender, and their bid was way
too high. Shindico said that the Ontario design could not be built on
the Winnipeg budget, but that they had a design of their own that
Regarding Fire Station #11, here's how the auditors reported Shindico's position:
"With respect to the core or urban station... the response from Shindico stated:
replace the firehall located at Portage Avenue and Berry Street,
Shindico’s proposing the new Fire Paramedic Station be incorporated into
the green space located immediately adjacent to the west side of the
southbound lane of Route 90 on the north side of Portage Avenue. The
property is owned by the City of Winnipeg. .......The Cost to develop
the Core Station on Portage Avenue is
$5,991,500 or $518.11 per
square foot ....The Core Station is more complex than the Suburban
Stations” Based on this statement the design for the Core station, as proposed by Shindico, was to be 11,564 square ft ."
The size of the St. James firehall was already growing. The auditors note that this was before the city saw any design incorporating a hazmat unit (or fire museum).
* The auditors continued to document the decisions regarding Station No. 11:
June 28, 2010
Management and WFPS decide to move forward with Shindico regarding
development of their concepts for Portage Station # 11. (MC#17)
Suburban stations are expected to be subject to public tender.
September 2, 2010
Shindico notifies Chief WFPS, via email, that they are working on an
alternative station design for suburban stations, based on a request
from the City. Email notes Shindico’s belief that M&M design can’t
be done for City’s budget . Chief WFPS cautions regarding this
approach, but gives go ahead regarding
Station #11. Email exchange is forwarded to CAO by Shindico.
September 3, 2010
Current Chief WFPS responded to (Shindico) indicating: I am only able
to legally negotiate on the specification that was put out to all the
bidders. That specification is the Murphy and Murphy specification for
the 3 suburban fire paramedic stations. To do anything else at this
time puts the city in a position of serious risk from the other
Station 11 is a different animal as it had not (sic) accompanying design and falls under its own category of negotiation. That is certainly open to further discussion.
would suggest Bob that before your company expends a lot of time and
energy designing a new building, we resolve some of these issues first.
Lets go full steam ahead on the 11 Station project though. I will meet with materials management on Tuesday to begin phase 2 of that process and let you know the result.
* Here's where the St. James firehall story gains traction. This story appeared in The Metro, one of Canstar's weeklies:
Talk of new fire hall location heating up
Fire department eyeing spot near Route 90 for Berry St. replacement, deputy chief says
By: Matt Preprost Posted: 03/23/2011 3:34 AM March 23, 2011
official are eyeing a two-acre plot of land at Portage Avenue and
Century Street for the relocation of Station No. 11 on Berry Street.
The Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service is hoping to build a new fire and paramedic station and fire museum inside the cloverleaf just west of Century Street, Reid Douglas, the services deputy chief, confirmed in an interview.
plan is not yet finalized, and needs to go through several civic
committees and public consultation before being approved, Douglas said.
all goes to plan, a new $4 million, 12,000 sq. ft. station will be
built in the northwest corner of the cloverleaf next to the St. James
It's March, 2011. This is the first time there's any talk about a fire museum.
And note the size of the station---12,000 sq. ft. That's probably a
rounding-up of the 11,564 sq. ft. of Shindico's station design.
But this time round it's more than just the cost of the "core station"; it includes a museum. Was that always the intent? Surely there must be some documentation explaining if it was.
* In June, 2011, the city hired Williams Engineering to track the progress of the firehalls project.
July 7, 2011
“Meeting of Progress Minutes” # 2 indicated that by July 7, 2011 the design to Portage - Station #11 was 90% complete.
October 14, 2011
William’s MPM of this date indicates that the cost estimate for Portage - Station#11 is $5.1 Million.
Oct. 19, 2011 The City issues a foundation permit for Station #11.
January 27, 2012
The construction of Portage Station was awarded
based on two contracts. One contract for the foundation and one for the completion of the building. The commencement of the construction of Portage Station # 11 with a foundation only contract, effectively bound the City to the construction of a station with the size and resulting cost that was not within the approved Council approved budget.
February 6, 2012
meeting was held between Legal Services, the MRE, the Current Chief
WFPS and the WFPS Project Coordinator. During the meeting the following
► The builder, Pre-Con was going bankrupt and needed payment for the Taylor property.
► There was an understanding that the proposed land exchange transferred excess value to Shindico. Such excess value was to be dealt with via a price reduction on Portage Station #11.
February 23, 2012
issued a(n) MPM which included a new cost estimate from Shindico for
Portage - Station #11, at $5.7 million before signage and permits.
* April 26, 2012
The Current COO and CFO approved the foundation only contract for Portage -Station #11.
July 7, 2012
Fire hall changes irk residents
By: Matt Preprost 07/18/2012 1:02 AM
changes to the site plan of the new Station No. 11 fire hall in St.
James has left a ringing in the ears of nearby residents.
city fire chief Reid Douglas and Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service
project manager Christine Friesen appeared before the Assiniboia
community committee seeking approval to move the location of the
station from the back end of the property near Century Street up to the
front of the site near Portage Avenue.
The committee approved the changes following
a two-hour public hearing, a move city officials say will increase
visibility of the station, improve traffic sight lines and reduce the
overall footprint of the station by about 600 square feet.
the beginning of the hearing, a lawyer for the Viscount Gort Hotel
argued the station’s construction was "unlawful" and it is being built
without provincial approval.
Richard Good said Viscount owner
Phillip Kives was not consulted, and the hotel could suffer a loss of
revenue and reputation as a result of the decision.
The city proceeded with undue haste, Good said, calling for construction to be stopped until there was further consultation.
Scott Fielding (St. James-Brooklands) noted the WFPS held a public
consultation about the station at the Viscount Gort in July 2011.
He also noted a letter sent by the hotel to the community about the hearing misled residents into believing the station was expanding in size and taking up more greenspace inside the cloverleaf when the opposite was true.
* Fielding was 100 percent wrong. The station WAS expanding in size. He's since claimed somebody lied to him. He's not named that "somebody."
* The following month, August, 2012, the entire firehalls fiasco started to unravel.
reporter Sean Kavanagh stumbled across Shindico floating a lease on
the old St. James firehall, which was still owned by the city. That led
to the revelation of a land swap with Shindico which had never been
approved by city councillors and the fact that one firehall was now
built on land the city did not own -- land owned by Shindico.
August 30, 2012
meeting was held in the Current CAO’s office, where apparently the MMM
informed the Current Chief WFPS that the WFPS were building the
Portage Avenue station without proper award authorities in place.
The auditors elsewhere clarified that bafflegab in their report:
"It is unclear as to the point in time that the CAO (Phil Sheegl), COO (Deepak Joshi) and Legal Services were aware that Portage - Station #11 was being constructed without a contract
and/or appropriate contract award authorities in place. MM, the CAO
(Phil Sheegl), CFO and COO (Deepak Joshi) were aware a contract was
not in place by the end of August 2012 based on the content of the following email from the MMM:
For everyone’s sake and peace of mind, we need to determine the approvals that are in place, or not, for these Fire Stations.
topic was briefly discussed at the CAO’s office today, but it is clear
that the City is well underway building at least one $6 million dollar
station with approval for only <$1 million."
* To sum up, the budget was blown. The
city administration had the bright idea of spending the little bit
that was left to dig the foundation for Fire Station No. 11, and to ask
City Council for more money to finish the project the following year (
2013). In the meantime, Shindico would continue construction with the promise it would get paid.
The auditors observed:
In respect to Portage - Station #11 contracting, we have been informed
by both Williams and Legal Services that one of the reasons the
contract was split into two components, the foundation and the remainder
of the building, was because sufficient Council approved funding was
not available to allow for an
award for the full value of construction costs. This would be against City Policy.
But note this odd -- and unexplained -- reference the following month:
September 19, 2012
Corporate Finance sent email to CFO indicating:
here is an updated draft of the report. This considers the information
provided in the spreadsheet and the information provided by Reid by
way of email and meeting earlier today. It is a moving target - from
what Reid is now saying, the budget for the three suburban stations
construction was too low - he references $2 to $2.4 million in his
email, based on the St. Thomas experience. Assuming he budgeted $2.2
million for these stations, the overall budget of $15.34 million works.
This would also be supported by the fact at the same time, the City
had received responses back from Shindico on 200-2009B that the
buildings could be delivered for $275 per square foot ($6.1 million
total). As the stations actually came in at, on average, $3.1 million
each, that puts the budget $2.8 million short.
...-what were the redesign efforts on 11 that took place to save $1.2 million?
* Here's where the trail of the change order for Station No. 11 gets hazy, in large part because there was no contract for its construction so nobody really knew what Shindico was building -- except Shindico.
Chief Reid Douglas told the auditors that the original design with the
museum was rejected by Public Works as a traffic distraction. When was that? Is there no documentation, especially since Douglas went on to state:
Chief WFPS’s Comments Regarding Review of Ernst & Young Draft Report Dated September 5, 2013
was assumed the sq. ft. of museum elimination would translate to a 4th
bay. This requires additional accomodation in crew space as well thus
increasing overall 3000 sf for apparatus bay and living space"
* Here, definitely, is discussion of increasing the size of Fire Station No. 11. This would require a change order. Where are the emails, the memos, the documentation surrounding this discussion?
The auditors then complicated the story with this comment:
The sizing of Portage - Station #11 did change significantly as a
result of WFPS eliminating the museum component and adding space for the
Hazmat unit. The original RFP specified a station of approximately
10,000 sq. ft. To meet the specification requested in the original RFP,
Shindico’s response included a
station design that was 11,564 sq. ft. The final design for Portage - Station #11 was 14,459 sq. ft.
Here is the first reference to a firehall that's 14,459 sq. ft. large. It's gone through two design changes, and city officials say there's no paperwork anywhere that discusses how and when the final size was reached.
the mention of a Hazmat unit is new. Once the museum was kiboshed,
they obviously didn't know what to do with the space. So they began running with various ideas. First was moving the Hazmat unit from St. Boniface into Station #11.
No way, declared United Fire Fighters of Winnipeg president Alex Forrest.
That idea was junked. But the firehall was being built 3000 square feet bigger and something had to fill all that extra space.
By early October, 2012, we learned it would be the Hazmat unit from the Maples.
* And one other thing got tossed along with the St. Boniface Hazmat--- the Fire Chief. Reid Douglas was out of a job.
No sooner was his departure announced, than COO Deepak Joshi jumped to blame him for the debacle.
Chief thought bigger station would cost same
By: Bartley Kives Posted: 10/26/2012 1:00 AM
Paramedic Chief Reid Douglas had the authority to supersize the new
Station No. 11 because he believed he could add 33 per cent more space
to the Portage Avenue structure without going over budget.
Winnipeg chief operations officer Deepak Joshi said Douglas had the authority to go ahead with the change because the chief believed the extra work could be done without exceeding his budget.
felt it was the right thing to do at the time," said Joshi, explaining
the new station was still being designed after its concrete foundation
was poured. There was no reason for the chief to believe his change order would result in such a cost increase, based on the information at his disposal, he added.
Joshi believed in October, 2012, that there was a change order.
Today he says there's no record anywhere.
We repeat, preposterous.
The city administration can start looking between March, 2011, when the Fire Chief said the new St. James station would be 12,000 square feet and July, 2011, when Williams Engineering reported that the design for the station was 90 percent complete.
Somewhere there they'll find internal documentation discussing the scrapping of a museum, what to do with the extra space, the need for another 3000 square feet if a hazardous materials unit is to be shoehorned into the building.
The declaration that they can't find a single note, email, or document must be seen as part of the internal cover-up.
Labels: boondoggle, CTF, Deepak Joshi, fire halls, Mike Ruta, Paula Havixbeck, Phil Sheegl, Sam Katz, Scott Fielding, Shindico