River Heights forum to discuss vacant fire hall's future
A Winnipeg city councillor is inviting his constituents to say what should be done with an empty fire station at the centre of a controversial land swap deal.
River Heights Coun. John Orlikow is hosting a public forum next week, where residents in his ward can discuss the future of Fire Station No. 12 at 1710 Grosvenor Ave.
The former fire hall sparked controversy after local property developer Shindico prematurely advertised it for lease, even though it currently does not 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 fire 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.
City council will soon vote on whether to approve the land swap, after it receives a report on the deal from auditors.
Orlikow said it should be up to residents in his ward, where the Grosvenor fire hall is located, to decide what should be done with it.
"One idea was to put more of a community centre-type of model for Boys and Girls clubs or a senior centre. We should explore those," Orlikow told CBC News Thursday.
"The land swap right now, for me, is off the table completely because I haven't agreed to have the land sold, so there is no land swap."
Orlikow added that he won't go along with any deal that swaps the land and allows it to be developed into commercial property.
"No Timmy's, no billboards, no drive-thrus," he said.
"The most close we'd get to is having … a non-profit group running some community programming out of there."
Orlikow's meeting will take place next Tuesday at Sir John Franklin Community Club.
Mayor Sam Katz admitted earlier this week that mistakes were made in how the land swap was handled.