Lansdowne, LRT on auditor general's radar next year

The city’s auditor general says he will audit how the city managed its Lansdowne contract with Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group next year, three days after the city announced it won’t make a profit at the flagship park.

by Emma Jackson

Earlier this week, an internal report found higher-than-expected construction and renovation costs corroded any profit the city might have seen in 2015, and its operating partner OSEG posted a $10.9 million loss as well.

It wasn’t the only timely item on the agenda. Auditor general Ken Hughes will also review the city’s LRT planning and management operations as well as the LRT regulatory framework next year as part of his annual audit schedule.

Hughes said auditing light rail processes now – before stage two begins – is a better use of his time instead of waiting until it’s over and telling staff where they went wrong.

“If we can provide any third party insight into implementing the plan, we can provide better value,” said Hughes.

Several councillors tried to add to his 2016 work plan, with little success.

Coun. Allan Hubley asked Hughes to review the city’s affordable housing wait list for “a better picture of who’s on that waiting list and what their needs are.”

While Hughes agreed it’s worthwhile, he said he’ll have to investigate which audits he’s allowed to do, and if the province has conducted on, that might help clarify the committee’s questions. He will report back by spring 2016.

Coun. Diane Deans also asked for a detailed review of all the direct and indirect costs associated with implementing light rail – something Hughes said would require more funding. City manager Kent Kirkpatrick offered to provide the information to Deans instead.

Emergency preparedness services, IT remote access controls and ambulance services are also on the agenda next year.

This article originally appeared in Metro Ottawa newspaper on Nov. 26.