Most people in Rossland are aware of the circumstances surrounding the City’s former Building Inspector, Jason Ward, issuing contracts, worth about $185,000, to his own company (ADA Co. Inc.) for renovation work on the arena.
Following Mr. Ward’s abrupt departure from the employ of the City in October 2012 and the “friendly” gathering in the Seniors Centre in January 2013 where Mayor Granstrom unsuccessfully tried to explain what Council was going to do to address the issue, Council asked the Electrical Inspector and Fairbank Architects to review the renovation work done in the arena in 2010 and 2011. Reports from those inspections were received by the City by the end of February 2013.
In April, under the provisions of Freedom Of Information (FIPPA) legislation, I asked to see copies of those reports because they had not been released publicly by the City. My request was refused. I appealed the City’s refusal to the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner (OIPC) to review their decision. The OIPC had scheduled an inquiry to be held about the City’s refusal to release the reports with initial submissions due on December 19, 2013.
But lo and behold! – the City has just released the reports. They are available on the City website but you’ll have to look hard to find them. They are not highlighted on the home page of the City’s website under “Recent News & Notices”, they are buried in the section on “Reports & Studies” under “Arena Reports”. They make for interesting reading.
While it appears that the City realized that their refusal to release the reports was unjustified, and that the OIPC would undoubtedly order the City to release the reports, they really don’t seem to want the people of Rossland to find out what the reports say. No wonder. The reports contain comments that point to the failure of senior staff and Council to monitor the work of their employees and to take responsible corrective action.
The Electrical Inspector’s report identified “multiple technical non-compliant aspects of the installation” that did not conform to the BC Electrical Safety Regulations. The Electrical Inspector ordered the City to rectify the non-compliances before February 28, 2013. There has been no word from the City that these safety-related non-compliances were rectified nor what the cost was if they were.
The 23 page Fairbank Architects report contains many findings, opinions, and recommendations that underline the inadequacies of the work done by ADA, and the questionable value of the work performed.
The City’s refusal to notify the public of these safety-related issues is outrageous. The FIPPA specifically states that a public body must disclose to the public information about a risk of significant harm to the environment or to the health or safety of the public, or the disclosure of which is, for any other reason, clearly in the public interest.
In spite of Mayor Granstrom’s statement at the “friendly” meeting in the Seniors Hall that “I will say that the fact that we got value for money is fact,” it appears that the fact is not in fact, fact.
This whole disgraceful chapter in the history of Rossland continues, largely as a result of the stonewalling by Mayor Granstrom and, with the sole exception of Councillor Kathy Moore, the inertia of the remainder of Council. Council appears to have taken little, or no, action to find the whole truth in this matter. There has been no attempt to provide a full accounting of the costs associated with the project.
I imagine Council prefers that the whole issue would simply disappear.