City committee unanimously shoots down appeal, recovery centre to move forward

The lone appeal at City Hall Thursday was unanimously shot down by Winnipeg city councillors. Members of the appeal committee voted unanimously to deny the appeal from St. James residents who wished to have the decision to allow the Bruce Oake Recovery Centre built where Vimy Arena stands overturned.

“Over and over we heard about the legislation and the framework that Manitoba does not have, the government of Manitoba does not have,” committee chair Coun. Sherri Rollins (Fort Rouge-East Fort Garry) said.

“Much of this responsibility for implementing (addictions treatment) programs lies in the hands of other levels of government, but we feel the absence of this viscerally in Manitoba.”

“And we know that addiction supports in the province remain disconcertingly inefficient — disconcertingly inefficient in this city.”

“We heard remarks and efforts made today to really be inclusive of all people in all types of health, and to make healthy choices. To make healthy choices while as chair of Protection, Community Services and Parks, I take that really seriously.”

“And we’ve heard really concerning things today, like those living with addictions — and I quote — ‘do not blend into the crowd’, that residents are afraid of strangers. But as Mayor Bowman says so often to us, a Winnipegger is a Winnipegger, is a Winnipegger.”

More than 600 pages of letters opposing the centre’s creation in the Sturgeon Creek area were submitted to city hall as part of the appeal hearing, with neighbours of the 255 Hamilton Ave. site expressing safety concerns.

The recovery centre cleared its final hurdle at council last month, with construction possibly starting this summer.

“I’m really looking forward to a good dialogue,” Rollins said before the meeting began.

“It’s really important to know that your city councillors meet an appeal with an open mind, and in some cases meet with people and hear from them for the first time.

“It’s absolutely critical that we have a good, solid appeal process, and we do,” Rollins told 680 CJOB.

“It does take time, because people want to speak to their city council and creating that welcoming environment is important.”

This committee meeting is the latest in a series of heated public debates about the project, which is planned to be a 50-bed long-term addictions treatment centre at the old Vimy Arena site.