Skip to main content

The first red flag on the Post Office-as-Police HQ boondoggle --four years ago!

It's amazing what you sometimes find at the bottom of your research pile.

Here, for example, is the very, very first red flag raised about the disastrous plan to buy and remodel the old downtown post office building into a brand spanking new police headquarters.

It bears reprinting in its entirety.

In 2010, the post offfice project was expected to cost $168 million, of which $5.3 Million was for initial design work by AECOM Canada.

Read it and weep.

Councillor livid firm gets $10M despite errors
Design trouble boosted projects' costs

By: Bartley Kives
Posted: 09/10/2009

The newest member of Mayor Sam Katz's inner circle is fuming that a private engineering firm blamed for design errors at two Winnipeg sewage-treatment plants received more than $10 million in consulting payments from the city last year.

City council infrastructure-renewal boss Mike O'Shaughnessy, who rejoined executive policy committee on Wednesday, lashed out at senior city officials after receiving a report showing Earth Tech Canada received almost $10.1 million from the city in 2008.

Since 2007, the city has been negotiating with Earth Tech Canada -- now AECOM Canada -- to recover some of the costs of overruns at the West End Water Pollution Control Centre, where upgrades estimated to cost $26 million were adjusted upwards in stages to $47 million.

At the time, a confidential water and waste department report blamed $12 million of the cost increases partly on "design errors, incomplete design and design clarification" that forced engineers to redraw plans for a heating and ventilation system and a chemical-addition system at the plant.

The city and AECOM are still trying to work out what portion of the cost overruns will be borne by either party, as the city may have contributed to the errors by changing contracts, said Mike Shkolny, water and waste department engineering manager.

But at the first EPC meeting following the summer break, councillors revealed the same firm assumed responsibility for a separate error at a North End Water Pollution Control Centre upgrade project.

The second error involved the incorrect placement of a concrete support column, which prevented a piece of machinery known as a decanter from moving inside a nitrogen-removal facility, Shkolny said. This incident was only reported verbally to city councillors behind closed doors, Shkolny said, because the city was concerned media attention could jeopardize potential litigation.

No legal action was ever pursued. The firm remedied the situation by paying for the studies, scaffolding and cranes required to remove a piece of superfluous skimming equipment from the decanter, thus allowing the facility to work, Shkolny said.

"Earth Tech absorbed it all," said Shkolny, pegging the cost of the second error at about $50,000.
A spokeswoman for AECOM Canada did not return calls Wednesday.

Nevertheless, Old Kildonan Coun. O'Shaughnessy, who ordered a city investigation into the West End cost overruns two years ago, grilled Winnipeg chief administrative officer Glen Laubenstein and chief financial officer Mike Ruta for the fact Winnipeg continues to sole-source contracts worth up to $500,000 to engineering firms as part of the $34.8 million worth of payments to consultants made in 2008.

"Five-hundred-thousand dollars without a tender is a sin; $100,000 without a tender is a sin," said O'Shaughnessy.

St. Norbert Coun.Swandel, the finance chairman, added his concern that sole-source consulting contracts seem to be the norm and not the exception.

Laubenstein said the city is seeking to reduce the number of consultants it employs. But in 2008, consulting payments rose to $34.8 million from $29.9 million in 2007.

Upgrade outrage
City councillors in a stink over cost increases and design errors at two city sewage-treatment plants

The West End plant

The headache: 
In July 2007, the city was forced to adjust the projected cost of upgrades at the West End Water Pollution Control Centre at the southwest corner of Wilkes Avenue and the Perimeter Highway. The projected tab was raised to $47 million, up $12 million from a $35 million estimate earlier that year -- and up $21 million from the original estimate of $26 million.

What happened: 
In a written report, the city's water and waste department said "design errors, incomplete design and design clarification" forced engineers to redraw plans for both a heating and ventilation system and a chemical-addition system. The report also stated engineering firm Earth Tech Canada had trouble running the project and wound up with a "strained relationship" with contractor Bird Construction. These problems contributed to the increase costs.

The aftermath: 
Then-city council finance chairman Mike O'Shaughnessy ordered an investigation into the ballooning cost of the West End project. Negotiations with the firm formerly known as Earth Tech are still underway, as it remains unclear what role the city may have played by changing specifications for the design work.

Political fallout: 
The West End cost overrun formed the basis for a push to replace Winnipeg's water and waste department with a new city-owned utility that will partner with engineering firms, on the assumption firms would be less likely to make mistakes if they owned some aspect of the project. City council approved the creation of a new utility in July.

The North End plant
The headache: 
In the spring of 2008, the city found a piece of machinery inside a new nitrogen-removal facility at the North End Water Pollution Control Centre on Main Street could not rotate without striking a concrete support column. The projected tab for the facility was adjusted to $25.4 million from $23.3 million.

What happened: 
In a verbal report, city staff informed city councillors that engineering firm Earth Tech erred in the design of the support column, leading the contractor to build it in the wrong place.

The aftermath: 
 In this case, the engineering firm assumed full responsibility for the error and paid for the removal of a piece of skimming equipment that would allow the arm to move. In the end, the error cost $50,000.

Political fallout: 
On Wednesday, Couns. O'Shaughnessy (Old Kildonan) and Justin Swandel (St. Norbert) questioned how Winnipeg can continue hiring firms that err, often without tendering.
Note Justin Swandel's flip flop.  Way back then he was acting as a steward of taxpayers' money.  Today, he's against any audit of how the post office project went so horribly off the rails, arguing that it doesn't matter, the money's spent, and let's just get on with the job of wasting tax money without accountability.

Popular posts from this blog

The unreported bombshell conspiracy evidence in the Trudeau/SNC-Lavelin scandal

Wow. No, double-wow. A game-changing bombshell lies buried in the supplementary evidence provided to the House of Commons Judiciary Committee by former Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould. It has gone virtually unreported since she submitted the material almost a week ago. As far as we can find, only one journalist-- Andrew Coyne, columnist for the National Post--- has even mentioned it and even then he badly missed what it meant, burying it in paragraph 10 of a 14 paragraph story. The gist of the greatest political scandal in modern Canadian history is well-known by now. It's bigger than Adscam, the revelation 15 years ago that prominent members of the Liberal Party of Canada and the party itself funneled tens of millions of dollars in kickbacks into their own pockets from federal spending in Quebec sponsoring ads promoting Canadian unity. That was just venal politicians and a crooked political party helping themselves to public money. The Trudeau-Snc-Lavalin scandal is

Crips and Bloodz true cultural anchors of Winnipeg's aboriginal gangs

(Bebo tribute page to Aaron Nabess on the right, his handgun-toting friend on the left) At least six murder victims in Winnipeg in the past year are linked to a network of thuglife, gangster rap-styled, mainly aboriginal street gangs calling themselves Crips and Bloods after the major black gangs of L.A. The Black Rod has been monitoring these gangs for several months ever since discovering memorial tributes to victim Josh Prince on numerous pages on, a social networking website like Myspace and Facebook. Josh Prince , a student of Kildonan East Collegiate, was stabbed to death the night of May 26 allegedly while breaking up a fight. His family said at the time he had once been associated with an unidentified gang, but had since broken away. But the devotion to Prince on sites like Watt Street Bloodz and Kingk Notorious Bloodz (King-K-BLOODZ4Life) shows that at the time of his death he was still accepted as one of their own. Our searches of Bebo have turned up another five ga

Manitoba Hydro is on its deathbed. There, we said it.

Manitoba Hydro is on its deathbed. Oh, you won't find anyone official to say it. Yet . Like relatives trying to appear cheery and optimistic around a loved one that's been diagnosed with terminal cancer, the people in power are in the first stage of grief -- denial. The prognosis for Hydro was delivered three weeks ago at hearings before the Public Utilities Board where the utility was seeking punishingly higher rates for customers in Manitoba. It took us this long to read through the hundred-plus pages of transcript, to decipher the coded language of the witnesses, to interpret what they were getting at, and, finally, to understand the terrible conclusion.  We couldn't believe it, just as, we're sure, you can't--- so we did it all again, to get a second opinion, so to speak.  Hydro conceded to the PUB that it undertook a massive expansion program--- involving three (it was once four) new dams and two new major powerlines (one in the United States)---whi

Nahanni Fontaine, the NDP's Christian-bashing, cop-smearing, other star candidate

As the vultures of the press circle over the wounded Liberal Party of Manitoba, one NDP star candidate must be laughing up her sleeve at how her extremist past has escaped the scrutiny of reporters and pundits. Parachuted into a safe NDP seat in Winnipeg's North End, she nonetheless feared a bruising campaign against a well-heeled Liberal opponent.  Ha ha.  Instead, the sleepy newspeeps have turned a blind eye to her years of vitriolic attacks on Christianity, white people, and police. * She's spent years  bashing Christianity  as the root cause of all the problems of native people in Canada. * She's called for  a boycott of white businesses . * And with her  Marxist research partner, she's  smeared city police as intransigent racists . Step up Nahanni Fontaine, running for election in St. John's riding as successor to the retiring Gord Macintosh. While her male counterpart in the NDP's galaxy of stars, Wab Kinew, has responded to the controversy over

Exposing the CBC/WFP double-team smear of a hero cop

Published since 2006 on territory ceded, released, surrendered and yielded up in 1871 to Her Majesty the Queen and successors forever. Exposing the CBC/FP double-team smear of a hero cop Some of the shoddiest journalism in recent times appeared this long August weekend when the CBC and Winnipeg Free Press doubled teamed on a blatant smear of a veteran city police officer. In the latest example of narrative journalism these media outlets spun stories with total disregard for facts that contradicted the central message of the reports which, simplified, is: police are bad and the system is covering up. Let's start with the story on the taxpayer funded CBC by Sarah Petz that can be summed up in the lead. "A February incident where an off-duty Winnipeg officer allegedly knocked a suspect unconscious wasn't reported to the province's police watchdog, and one criminologist says it shows how flawed oversight of law enforcement can be." There you have it. A policeman, not

Winnipeg needs a new police chief - ASAP

When did the magic die? A week ago the Winnipeg police department delivered the bad news---crime in the city is out of control. The picture painted by the numbers (for 2018) was appalling. Robberies up ten percent in  a single year.  (And that was the good news.) Property crimes were up almost 20 percent.  Total crime was 33 percent higher than the five year average. The measure of violent crime in Winnipeg had soared to a rating of 161.  Only four years earlier it stood at 116. That's a 38 percent deterioration in safety. How did it happen? How, when in 2015 the police and Winnipeg's police board announced they had discovered the magic solution to crime? "Smart Policing" they called it.    A team of crime analysts would pore through data to spot crime hot-spots and as soon as they identified a trend (car thefts, muggings, liquor store robberies) they could call in police resources to descend on the problem and nip it. The police