Winnipeg city council's inner circle approves sale of Vimy Arena for Bruce Oake Recovery Centre

Winnipeg city council's executive policy committee has voted to sell the Vimy Arena to the province so the property can be turned into a long-term recovery centre for men suffering with addictions.

City of Winnipeg will reinvest arena's $1.4M value in local recreation facilities

Scott Oake, centre, and Anne Oake, right, listen to delegations as part of a vote on Wednesday by city council's executive policy committee to approve the sale of Vimy Arena to the province. (Jeff Stapleton/CBC)

Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman and his inner circle have voted to sell the Vimy Arena to the province so the property can be turned into a long-term recovery centre for men suffering with addictions.

If approved with a two-thirds majority at council next week, the property will be sold for $1 to Manitoba Housing, which will then lease it to the Bruce Oake Foundation for $1 a year for 99 years. 

City council's executive policy committee approved an amended motion Wednesday to transfer the property to the province and invest $1.4 million — the value of the Vimy Arena — from the city's land operating reserve into recreation amenities within the Assiniboia Community Committee area. 

The reserve is funded by the sale of City of Winnipeg property. 

Coun. Scott Gillingham (St. James-Brooklands-Weston) amended the motion, which includes a promise to spend $50,000 on public consultations so the community can weigh in on how the $1.4 million is spent.

"By looking for $1.4 million from the land operating reserve — that, in essence, would be a way to make the community whole," he said.

Even if council approves the sale of the Vimy Arena next week, including the motion to invest $1.4 million in local recreation facilities, there's no guarantee attached to the funds. 

The $1.4 million would still be subject to the 2019 budget process and must be approved by council next year.

EPC hears arguments for, against centre

Throughout Wednesday morning, executive policy committee heard from more than 20 delegates who argued both for and against the creation of the Bruce Oake Recovery Centre. 

EPC votes to sell Vimy Arena

5 years ago
Duration 1:22
On Jan. 17, 2018 Mayor Brian Bowman and his executive policy committee (EPC) voted unanimously to sell the Vimy Arena to the province for $1. The plan still needs council approval.

Some were tearful, personal testimonials about the devastating effects of drug addiction on families and addicts.

Scott Oake, father of the late Bruce Oake — who died of a drug overdose in 2011 — said 10 Manitobans die every month from overdoses, and he is concerned meth use will only increase the statistic.

There is a dire need for facilities that can provide  long-term treatment — up to two years — for men with drug addictions, he said. 

"In our family we have no shame about how our son died because he had a disease," said Oake.

Greg Hammond, speaking for the Friends of Sturgeon Creek, criticized the deal between the city and province, which was negotiated behind closed doors.

He offered a bid to purchase the property for $100 to keep the land for public use and revitalize the arena.
Mayor Brian Bowman and his executive policy committee held their meeting in the council chambers on Wednesday to accommodate 21 delegations that wished to speak in favour or against the proposed sale of the Vimy Arena. (Jeff Stapleton/CBC)

Gérald Danais said a new arena in Seven Oaks is too far away to be considered a replacement for the Hamilton Avenue facility.

Danais said by bus, it takes approximately 90 minutes to get to the new ice sheets, which has led some to abandon activities that once took place at Vimy Arena prior to its closure.

City council will either approve or reject the sale of the facility at its next meeting on Jan. 25.