A local city councillor supports a plan to transform the old police station building on Provencher Boulevard into a francophone health clinic.
"A francophone clinic at the former police station is an excellent reuse of the building. There is a real community need for more francophone doctors and this way the building will be protected," said Coun. Dan Vandal (St. Boniface).
"The redevelopment of the building has been a priority for St. Boniface for many years and I am pleased to finally announce that a viable proposal for a new multidisciplinary health clinic has been submitted."
On Dec. 12, city council approved the plan to sell the 21, 525-sq. ft. building, designed by legendary architect Étienne Gaboury, at 227 Provencher Blvd. for $680,000 to doctors Marc and Sharon Frechette.
According to city documents, the vision of the Frechettes is to become leaders in "recruiting francophone physicians from all specialties to provide service to a severely underserviced population of francophone patients in St. Boniface."
Vandal’s recommendation that $200,000 of the proceeds of the sale be used for improvements to Provencher Park and $100,000 for improvements to Provencher Boulevard was also approved at the recent meeting.
The historic building was originally put up for sale in June of this year for $470,000 and was to be demolished as a condition of the sale. The demolition condition was lifted in September after community members opposed the move and Vandal intervened.
Walter Kleinschmit, a long-time area resident and president of the Old St. Boniface Residents’ Association, spearheaded the efforts of the community members and area stakeholders to preserve the heritage of the former cop shop.
"We’re happy with the decision to turn the building into a francophone health clinic," Kleinschmit said.
"It’s a service that’s much in need in this area of the city. Our concern, as an association, was that the building was maintained from a heritage point of view and that commitment has been made, so that’s good.
"A public building adds value to the area, so all in all, it’s a good conclusion, considering the original threat of demolition. The objective of keeping the building maintained was our ultimate goal," he noted.
Vandal added the move reflects the community’s desire to preserve the heritage of the building, while encouraging the revitalization of the area, describing it as a "win-win situation for everybody."