A forum to discuss the future of the controversial Grosvenor firehall drew a large crowd Tuesday in Winnipeg's River Heights neighbourhood.
The forum at Sir John Franklin Community Centre was hosted by city Coun. John Orlikow, who insisted the land on which the hall sits remains publicly-owned and therefore, up to the public to decide what should be done with it.
The vacant Fire Station No. 12 is at the centre of a contentious land swap deal that may not go ahead.
Several city councillors have said they will oppose the deal when it comes time to vote.
The deal came to light and sparked controversy after local property developer Shindico prematurely advertised the Grosvenor hall for lease, even though it didn't own the land.
It was then revealed that the head of Winnipeg's Fire Paramedic Service had worked out a verbal agreement with Shindico on a land swap involving the Grosvenor hall, another former fire station on Berry Street, and a parcel of land on Mulvey Avenue, in exchange for property on Taylor Avenue where a new fire station has already been built.
"This is where the city kinda made a boo-boo," Orlikow said. "It is still city land, i.e. public land; still yours."
He suggested the firehall be torn down to make way for housing. He also wants the city to buy part of nearby Sir John Franklin field to reroute a transit bus that snakes behind the firehall.
His plan would also create parking at the Sir John Franklin field site.
"I understand there's needs out there and my job is to find a way to meet as many different needs as possible and I think this plan does that. I know this plan does that," Orlikow said.