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Residents fighting Vimy Arena sale for addictions treatment centre want to buy facility

WAYNE GLOWACKI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES</p>

WAYNE GLOWACKI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES

The neighbourhood group fighting the sale of the Vimy Arena is attempting to outbid the province for the property.

Greg Hammond, president of Friends of Sturgeon Creek, said the deal approved by council’s property and development committee a week ago, to sell the arena and adjacent parking lot to Manitoba Housing for $1, breaches the commitment council made to the St. Charles ward in 2013.

The neighbourhood group will offer city hall $100 for the property, he said, adding the proceeds of the sale of the arena was to be re-invested for the area’s recreational needs as a replacement for the arena, but he said that’s no longer happening with the province offering only $1.

“The proceeds (from the sale) are to be returned to the community for the rejuvenation of the community, but that can no longer happen,” Hammond said. “This land is worth much more than $1. (The sale) is not just taking it away, it doesn’t allow us to revitalize the area as it was intended.”

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The neighbourhood group fighting the sale of the Vimy Arena is attempting to outbid the province for the property.

Greg Hammond, president of Friends of Sturgeon Creek, said the deal approved by council’s property and development committee a week ago, to sell the arena and adjacent parking lot to Manitoba Housing for $1, breaches the commitment council made to the St. Charles ward in 2013.

The land outlined in yellow will be sold for $1 to Manitoba Housing, which in turn will lease the property to the Bruce Oake Foundation for the establishment of the Bruce Oake Recovery Centre. (City of Winnipeg)</p>

The land outlined in yellow will be sold for $1 to Manitoba Housing, which in turn will lease the property to the Bruce Oake Foundation for the establishment of the Bruce Oake Recovery Centre. (City of Winnipeg)

The neighbourhood group will offer city hall $100 for the property, he said, adding the proceeds of the sale of the arena was to be re-invested for the area’s recreational needs as a replacement for the arena, but he said that’s no longer happening with the province offering only $1.

"The proceeds (from the sale) are to be returned to the community for the rejuvenation of the community, but that can no longer happen," Hammond said. "This land is worth much more than $1. (The sale) is not just taking it away, it doesn’t allow us to revitalize the area as it was intended."

Councillors on the property and development committee last week approved the sale of the arena to the province for $1, rejecting the administration recommendation that the property be sold at its appraised value of $1.43 million.

The sale is part of the negotiations worked out by city hall and the province to turn the arena property over to the Bruce Oake Foundation, which plans to construct a 50-bed, long-term addictions rehab centre for men on the property.

Hammond said the group’s offer includes the commitment to redevelop the arena building to support the community’s use of the recreational activities along the Sturgeon Creek parkway.

"Our intent is to maintain the property and surrounding green space for public use, and to further enhance the area for recreational use by the community, under currently zoned (park) status," Hammond states in a letter that was sent to Bowman and all members of council via email early Monday.

Hammond recognizes the group faces a difficult task to quash the sale. While they need to get six members from the 16-member council to block the sale, Mayor Brian Bowman has publicly supported giving the arena property to the Bruce Oake Foundation and it appears almost certain he can muster the minimum 11 votes needed to approve the sale at the Jan. 26 meeting.

The group knows it can count on the support of St. Charles Coun. Shawn Dobson to vote against the deal, but Dobson said he doesn’t know if he can find five other councillors to support him.

The proposal for the rehab centre has attracted support from across the city and within the area.

RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS files</p><p>Plans to turn the Vimy Arena into the Bruce Oake Recovery Centre have moved one step closer to reality after a vote by the city’s property and development committee.</p></p>

RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS files

Plans to turn the Vimy Arena into the Bruce Oake Recovery Centre have moved one step closer to reality after a vote by the city’s property and development committee.

The Vimy arena has been closed since 2015, part of a deal that saw city hall and the province contribute funds to the construction of a double rink arena in Garden City. Council had declared Vimy Arena and the arena at the Old Exhibition Grounds surplus in 2013 but postponed closing the facilities until the new Garden City facility was operational.

The 2013 council decision stipulated that proceeds from the sale of Vimy Arena were to be used to rejuvenate the recreational needs of the Sturgeon Creek area.

Council policy requires surplus land to be put up for sale to the highest bidder, but that didn't happen when the arena closed in 2015. After the Oake family approached city hall in April, the civic administration took advantage of a seldom-used loophole that bypasses the public bidding process when the provincial government requests the transfer of civic property.

Council policy also requires city hall to sell civic land to the province at market prices, which the committee rejected last week.

Hammond said he will attend Wednesday’s executive policy committee meeting, which is expected to endorse the arena sale, to make the community group’s offer in person.

"We want to come back to the fact this land is worth much more than $1," Hammond said.

aldo.santin@freepress.mb.ca

 

Aldo Santin

Aldo Santin
Reporter

Aldo Santin is a veteran newspaper reporter who first carried a pen and notepad in 1978 and joined the Winnipeg Free Press in 1986, where he has covered a variety of beats and specialty areas including education, aboriginal issues, urban and downtown development. Santin has been covering city hall since 2013.

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