A meeting between residents in St. James and their city councillor to discuss the proposal to build an addictions centre at the site of an old arena was cut short Saturday after the discussion became heated.
As St. Charles Coun. Shawn Dobson spoke to a room of about 200 people Saturday afternoon, residents began shouting out both in support and in opposition to the project.
Developers are proposing to build the Bruce Oake Recovery Centre on site of the old Vimy Arena. It’s an area surrounded by the Sturgeon Creek Greenway Trail, condos, houses and schools.
The 50-bed centre would offer a long-term treatment option for men suffering from addiction, an option backers say Winnipeg severely lacks.
It’s named after 25-year-old Bruce Oake, who died of a heroin overdose in 2011.
Bruce’s father, veteran sportscaster Scott Oake, and mother, Anne Oake, have been working for years to build a recovery centre in his memory. They say a long-term option is needed because it can take months, sometimes years, for brains to recover from the effects of opioid abuse.
Dobson supports the idea of building a treatment centre but is adamant the Vimy Arena site is the wrong choice. He argues the centre should be built far away from any residential neighbourhood in the city.
Many applauded him at Saturday’s meeting while others in the crowd questioned his expertise on drug abuse recovery.
Dobson said at one point the meeting was not an “open forum” and ended the meeting early, even as residents, hands in the air, waited for a turn to speak.
Victoria De Silva, a local resident who did speak Saturday, questioned what evidence the councillor has for opposing a treatment centre nestled in a quiet residential…