Saturday, December 24, 2005

On The Waterfront

The redevelopment of Toronto's waterfront is one of those projects that is periodically reannounced with great fanfare by politicians at all three levels of government, complete with big numbers, grand dreams, artists' renderings of a lakeshore paradise, and of course, yet another promise to tear down or bury the Gardiner Expressway.

Yet invariably, it produces nothing more than a few refurbished buildings while the condos keep going up to block the view of Lake Ontario more completely than the Gardiner ever did.

And of course, like all projects with ill-stated goals, interjurisdictional wrangling and cursory oversight, it produces corruption:

An audit of millions of dollars spent sprucing up Toronto's waterfront has found numerous contracting irregularities and questionable overseas travel.

The federal audit, obtained by The Canadian Press, examines how the Toronto Waterfront Revitalization Corp. has spent almost $30 million since 2001, when it was created to clean up and modernize the city's lakeshore.

The funding is split evenly among Ottawa, the province and the city.

The corporation's agreement with the three levels of government required that any contracts it signed for construction, goods or services worth more than $75,000 had to be put out to competitive bids.

But the investigators found 10 such contracts — about a third of the value of all contracts signed — where there was no competitive bidding at all.

They also found two major contracts that were signed two years after the goods or services first began to be provided, also contrary to the rules.

The audit document, from Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, does not identify individual firms or provide details of the problem contracts, such as their value.

In other words, somebody's been playing games with the tendering process, but we don't who, with whom, when, how much, or why.

This audit is little more than a CYA by the feds so they can claim to have reported the trouble if anyone blames them for not catching it sooner.

It is useless for any other purpose, if it doesn't name names.

But at least the cover story for the press and inquiry is ready.

Source: Toronto Star

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