A proposal to build a $15-million addictions treatment centre for aboriginals near a family fun park on the outskirts of Winnipeg has been taken off the table after strong opposition from residents and businesses.
The Tinkertown family amusement park and Fun Mountain Water Slide Park is within Winnipeg city limits but falls under the jurisdiction of the Rural Municipality of Springfield.
The Native Addictions Council of Manitoba (NACM) withdrew its proposal for the treatment centre after a heated Springfield council meeting Monday evening,
NACM executive director Bertha Fontaine said it simply wasn't worth the battle with the community.
"We've been taught a long time ago by our teachings not to fight over land and not to fight over things that are alive," she said. "It's not healthy, not a good thing to do."
'We've been taught a long time ago by our teachings not to fight over land and not to fight over things that are alive.' —Bertha Fontaine, Native Addictions Council of Manitoba
The 50,000-square-foot facility would have been located near Tinkertown and Fun Mountain.
At a council meeting last April, the reeve and councillors in the area voted unanimously to support the plan.
But a zoning variance was required before anything could go ahead.
In the meantime, councillors began hearing from residents and business owners who opposed the plan.
Lawrence Kiernicki, who owns Tinkertown, said he was concerned having drug and alcohol addicts nearby would hurt business.
Jeannie Klassen, who owns Travellers RV, a campground next to Tinkertown and Fun Mountain, had started a petition against the plan.
Group home also opposed
Monday's meeting was held to consider the rezoning.
More than 100 people attended, most of whom oppose the treatment centre as well as another proposal to build a group home that also failed to win council support.
The group home operated by the agency New Directions would have housed up to three developmentally or intellectually delayed men and staff.
'We're looking at the [provincial] Human Rights Code and how it might apply to the situation of the rights of developmentally disabled people to live in a rural area of Manitoba, just like any other Manitoba citizen would have that right.' —Jennifer Frain, New Directions
Jennifer Frain, a spokeswoman for New Directions, was taken aback by the negative reaction.
"[People are] becoming afraid or fearful about this without any information from us, about our individuals or about the kind of services that we provide," she said.
The group had already purchased a home in the community of Dugald for $400,000 and was seeking to change the zoning of the home from residential to institutional.
Angela Zelinski, a resident of Dugald, attended the meeting to speak against the New Directions proposal.
"We don't want any trouble in the neighbourhood," she said. "We don't want any crime, you know?
"And we're hoping that it can stay that way."
Frain said the New Directions board would take the next few days to consider filing a human rights challenge.
"We're looking at the [provincial] Human Rights Code and how it might apply to the situation of the rights of developmentally disabled people to live in a rural area of Manitoba, just like any other Manitoba citizen would have that right," she said.