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Politics

Long-term plans needed to maintain Halifax roads, sidewalks: auditor general

Evangeline Colman-Sadd, Halifax's auditor general, pictured at Halifax City Hall on May 16, 2018.
Evangeline Colman-Sadd, Halifax's auditor general, pictured at Halifax City Hall on May 16, 2018. Steve Silva / Global News

A report by the Halifax Regional Municipality’s auditor general has found that its transportation and public works department does not have complete long-term plans or measurable targets for maintaining the condition of its road and sidewalk assets.

“We expected management to have documented plans to support regional council’s priority of having a well-maintained transportation system,” auditor general Evangeline Colman-Sadd said in a press release.

In the report, released on Wednesday, Colman-Sadd said transportation and public works staff have a checklist that covers items to be considered before a street recapitalization or sidewalk renewal is tendered.

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“We tested 20 tenders to determine if this pre-tender process was followed,” she said. “The checklist was not completed for 12 of 20 tenders.”

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In addition, Colman-Sadd said management did not monitor to ensure the pre-tender checklist was completed, recommending that changes to project design be considered.

Among the 10 recommendations listed in the report is the monitoring of road and sidewalk capital projects to confirm that pre-tender checklists and construction deficiency forms are completed, followed up on and addressed.

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‘Significant weakness’ found in HRM’s property tax system
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The audit also looked at the construction inspection and warranty practices of the municipality’s departments of transportation and public works as well as planning and development. According to the report, both business units need to do a better job of monitoring to ensure that work has been properly completed and that new subdivision roads and sidewalks are acceptable before taking over from developers.

Sixteen new subdivisions were assessed in the planning and development department, along with 15 completed capital projects in transportation and public works.

“Planning and development could not prove they performed warranty inspections for 15 of the 16 samples tested,” said Colman-Sadd.

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“Transportation and public works staff [also] had limited documentation to prove completed warranty inspections,” she added.
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According to Colman-Sadd, this poses the risk that capital asset deficiencies, which should have been corrected by developers and contractors, are instead being paid for with taxpayer funds.

She recommends that both business units follow established processes for warranty inspections and keep documentation proving these processes are adequately monitored prior to the warranty period expiring.

Following the report’s release, management officials with the departments of transportation and public works and planning and development agreed to implement all 10 recommendations from the audit.

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