For-sale signs have gone up at two surplus Winnipeg fire halls that were part of a land swap controversy last year.
In November, city council killed a secretive deal that would have seen Shindico, a local property development company, exchanging land on Taylor Avenue for three other city properties.
As part of the swap, which involved fire paramedic Chief Reid Douglas and Shindico, the Taylor Avenue land was to be swapped for two fire stations that had been declared surplus and a parcel of land on Mulvey Avenue.
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A year after details of the land swap began to emerge, the city has posted for-sale signs at the fire stations, located on Grosvenor Avenue and Berry Street.
The city has not established a price for either building. Instead, officials are asking for offers.
Fire hall could be a 'teardown'
Jim Carson of the Corydon Community Centre, which has property next door to the Grosvenor fire hall, said he doubts the building can be salvaged.
"I think that engineers … would have to go in and take a look at the actual building itself. My understanding is that basically the building could be a teardown," he said.
Carson said he had hoped to acquire some of the land to expand a sports field, but he hopes the fire hall property will still serve the neighbourhood somehow.
"I think it's somewhat embarrassing for south Winnipeg that we have one of the largest senior populations in Winnipeg and we don't have a seniors' centre in south Winnipeg," he said.
3rd property on Mulvey Avenue
The third property in the three-for-one land swap negotiated by Shindico and Douglas — who was a deputy chief at the time — is a 3,480-square-metre parcel of vacant land on the 400 block of Mulvey Avenue East.
As with the fire halls, the city is accepting offers on the Mulvey property. Interested buyers have until Sept. 6 to submit their offers to purchase.
City officials say they would "support multi-family development at this location" and note that the property will be located immediately adjacent to the rapid transit system.
No deal yet on Taylor Avenue land
By the time the land swap was uncovered, the city had already allowed the Fire Paramedic Service to build a new station on the Taylor Avenue property, even though Shindico still owned the land.
Douglas told CBC News last fall that he had a verbal agreement with Shindico in which the land used to build the Taylor Avenue fire hall was worth approximately $1 million.
The city has yet to complete a deal with Shindico on the Taylor Avenue land.
That means the fire hall has been operational for more than a year now, on land the city currently does not own.
A final report from an audit of the land swap has been delayed until September.
An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that the third property in the Winnipeg land swap was on Morley Avenue and Hugo Street South, but it is actually on Mulvey Avenue East. The previous version of this story also said the Berry Street fire station was abandoned when, in fact, it was declared surplus.Sep 13, 2013 2:31 PM CT