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Concerns over addiction centre aired

Councillor Dobson calls project a 'backroom deal'

Ruth Bonneville / Winnipeg Free Press</p><p>Winnipeg Coun. Shawn Dobson is calling for transparency with regard to the $14-milion, 50-bed rehabilitation facility proposed for the site of Vimy Arena.</p>

Ruth Bonneville / Winnipeg Free Press

Winnipeg Coun. Shawn Dobson is calling for transparency with regard to the $14-milion, 50-bed rehabilitation facility proposed for the site of Vimy Arena.

A community meeting organized by Coun. Shawn Dobson got heated Saturday, as citizens came together to discuss the potential construction of a long-term addictions recovery facility in their neighbourhood.

More than 100 people packed into the Heritage Victoria community centre for the 2 p.m. meeting, listening to Dobson (St. Charles) address the crowd, debating the issue amongst themselves and signing petitions to stop the construction of the facility.

“Mayor (Brian) Bowman never notified the residents, or myself, about this. As far as I can tell, none of the other councillors were notified either. This is basically a backroom deal by the mayor, the province and Scott Oake. It’s really quite simple: they need to start being open and transparent,” Dobson said.

Local residents are concerned that the City of Winnipeg has offered up the Vimy Arena in the Crestview neighbourhood as the potential new home for a $14-million, 50-bed rehab facility.

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A community meeting organized by Coun. Shawn Dobson got heated Saturday, as citizens came together to discuss the potential construction of a long-term addictions recovery facility in their neighbourhood.

More than 100 people packed into the Heritage Victoria community centre for the 2 p.m. meeting, listening to Dobson (St. Charles) address the crowd, debating the issue amongst themselves and signing petitions to stop the construction of the facility.

"Mayor (Brian) Bowman never notified the residents, or myself, about this. As far as I can tell, none of the other councillors were notified either. This is basically a backroom deal by the mayor, the province and Scott Oake. It’s really quite simple: they need to start being open and transparent," Dobson said.

Local residents are concerned that the City of Winnipeg has offered up the Vimy Arena in the Crestview neighbourhood as the potential new home for a $14-million, 50-bed rehab facility.

They fear there could be safety concerns, as well as losses in property value, should the plan go through. In addition, they feel that the city has shut them out of the process and ignored their concerns.

They further claim Bowman is ignoring council policy and is planning to transfer the property to the province in order to find a loophole around city zoning bylaws.

"In my eyes, and in the eyes of a lot of people here, it shouldn’t be in a residential area. We’re not opposed to the facility, we just feel it should be in a country setting, or in an industrial area," Dobson said.

"But they (the city) have basically said, ‘There is an opioid crisis, so suck it up.’ Which is unacceptable."

Bowman denies keeping Dobson, or any of the other councillors, in the dark on the potential plan.

Also in attendance Saturday was Independent MLA Stephen Fletcher, whose riding the facility would be built in.

He decided to show up in order to voice his support of the neighbourhood’s attempts to stop construction of the facility.

As the meeting went on, the tension level in the room continued to rise and some tempers flared.

While the majority of residents in the neighbourhood do not want the facility built, a small minority has no problem with it and claims those opposed are being ruled by fear.

Dobson says he plans to rally as many residents as he can to attend the Nov. 15 city council meeting, in case Bowman decides to put the matter to a vote.

"This is basically a call to arms," Dobson said. "We need people calling the mayor. We need to call the councillors. We need to call the MLAs. And if the mayor decides to walk this onto the floor, we need to come down to city council."

ryan.thorpe.media@mail.com

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Updated on Saturday, November 11, 2017 at 11:50 PM CST: Story edited

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