Assiniboia MLA Steven Fletcher has added his name to the list of opponents to an addictions-recovery centre proposed for a residential neighbourhood on the west side of Winnipeg.
The independent MLA said Tuesday it does not make sense to convert the city-owned Vimy Arena into a 50-bed treatment facility called Bruce Oake Recovery Centre
"There are better uses of that space," the MLA said outside the Manitoba Legislature.
"We all agree the drug epidemic is important and must be dealt with, but studies have shown that these types of sites do better in rural, semi-rural or industrial areas."
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The recovery centre would offer Winnipeg a long-term treatment option for men suffering from addiction, something proponents say the city needs. It's named after the 25-year-old son of broadcaster Scott Oake, who died of a heroin overdose in 2011.
St. Charles Coun. Shawn Dobson has been campaigning against the centre since Mayor Brian Bowman informed the councillor the city is prepared to transfer the land to the province to facilitate its conversion into a treatment centre.
Fletcher joined Dobson in claiming the consultation process has been flawed and said residents were not given ample notice of the city's plans.
Dobson said Tuesday he wants the city to issue a formal request for proposals to develop the land in question and repeated his assertion the mayor engaged in a "backroom deal" with the Oake family.
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Bowman said Tuesday there is an urgent need for cities to combat the opioid-addiction crisis.
"I respectfully disagree with a position that says 'not in my back yard,'" the mayor said in response to Fletcher's comments, adding it's not helpful to stigmatize people suffering from addictions. "We're losing one person on average every three days in Winnipeg due to an opioid overdose."
The mayor said he still hopes to bring a plan to council before the end of this year. A two-thirds majority of council would be required to transfer city recreational property, which translates into 11 votes out of the 16 elected officials at city hall.
As a federal Conservative MP, Fletcher publicly opposed the conversion of the Bell Hotel on Main Street into a "housing-first" apartment building on the basis tenants at risk of homelessness would not be required to kick addictions.