The Bruce Oake Recovery Centre took another step to becoming a reality early Wednesday morning after a marathon public hearing at city hall lasting for more than six hours.
More than 60 people were in the crowd at the Assiniboia Community Committee Meeting. Typically, these meetings are held in a smaller room, but this one was moved to the council chambers to accommodate the crowd.
The committee approved a rezoning and conditional use plan but it will still have to go through the Standing Policy Committee on Property and Development, Executive Policy Committee and City Council before getting the go-ahead.
The Bruce Oake Recovery Centre is planned to be a 50-bed long-term addictions treatment centre at the old Vimy Arena site in the Crestview neighbourhood.
While the vote was on the rezoning of the land, dozens of people both for and against the centre came to voice their opinions on the project.
Many of those against it live in the neighbourhood. They say the increase in traffic and safety is a concern, property values will decrease and they will lose green space and recreation space.
“I realize rehab facilities are important, but so are young people,” Vicky Fedyk, who has lived on Vimy Road for 47 years, said.
“And recreation prevents them from getting caught up in the drug scene.”
Several former drug addicts and families of those who lost family members voiced their support for the centre along with nurses and residents in the area who think it is much needed.
”We can help make Bruce’s life mean something and we can make sure it doesn’t happen to anybody else,” Scott Oake, father of Bruce and head of the centre’s board of directors.
Barb Ashley lost her son to addiction earlier this year and said he went to a treatment facility in Vancouver. But when he returned to Winnipeg, the drug issues returned and he was put on a waiting list at the Addictions Foundation of Manitoba, unable to get the help he needed.
Oake said if rezoning goes in their favour, they will launch a capital fundraising campaign. He said they have already raised a significant amount, and they have people “ready willing and able” to write substantial cheques.
Things were much calmer than at an information meeting in the summer when supporters and opposers got into loud arguments about the centre.
The proposed plan for the three-acre plot of land would see it divided into lots. The first lot is 2.45 acres and would be rezoned from parks and recreation land to a residential multi-family area.
The remainder of the land would be used for green space.
If the rezoning process is approved, the province would be able to buy the land from the city and lease the $1.43-million plot of land to the centre for $1 a year.
Most of the arena would be torn down to build the recovery centre, except for a third of the western rink surface which would be used for a public gymnasium if it was possible to reuse the site. If not, a new gymnasium would be built.
The facility would be the only long-term treatment facility in Winnipeg and would cost nothing for those attending. The centre said no detox will occur and residents must be clean when starting their journey. Approximately 25-30 staff and professional support members would be on site throughout the day.
WATCH: Tempers flare at Bruce Oake information meeting