A Winnipeg businessman says he wants to buy the vacant Hecla Oasis Resort and turn it into a world-class addictions treatment centre.

Ian Rabb says he wants to transform the former resort, located 180 kilometres north of Winnipeg, into a 100-bed private facility that would address what he sees as a growing demand for more drug treatment programs.

"Recovery is a multibillion dollar tourism industry now in the United States and other parts of the world, and this would bring huge dollars to Manitoba," Rabb told CBC News on Tuesday.

A former drug addict himself, Rabb currently runs a residence in Winnipeg for recovering addicts to get their lives back on track.

Rabb estimates that he sends a dozen people out of the province every month for treatment.


The Hecla Oasis Resort was built by the province more than 30 years ago, but it was most recently owned by a private company. It is currently under receivership. (Google Street View)

"I have been involved in, for the last six years, numerous interventions with families where I am ultimately sending people out of province because of lack of beds in Manitoba," he said.

Rabb said while private money is behind his proposed facility, no one would be denied treatment due to their income.

Millions of dollars spent

Rabb would not say how much he is offering for the Hecla Resort, but its former owners have spent millions of dollars on remodelling the property.

The resort and an 18-hole golf course were originally built by the province on Hecla Island in Lake Winnipeg more than 30 years ago. A private company took over the resort in 2005.

But one of Hecla's long-standing problems has been its location. While picturesque, it is a two-hour drive north of Winnipeg and it has had trouble attracting winter business.

Rabb said no one else has expressed interest in the property, but he believes it's the perfect place to recover from addictions.

"Some of the most important things that people need in recovery are kind of normal stuff, like swimming and exercise and art and environment and the outside and recreation, so we've kind of got a perfect setting for that," he said.

Rabb said he is waiting to hear back from the resort's receiver.