City, province more than $1.4M apart on sale of land eyed for addictions-treatment centre

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City, province more than $1.4M apart on sale of land eyed for addictions-treatment centre

The city and province are $1.43 million apart on the sale price for a vacant arena eyed as the home of a proposed addictions-treatment centre.

In October, the provincial government wrote the city to formally express its interest in acquiring Vimy Arena, a vacant recreational facility in Crestview. The land in question would be transferred to the Bruce Oake Memorial Foundation, which would build a 50-bed, 30,000-square-foot addictions-treatment centre on the site.

The letter prompted Winnipeg to commission an external appraisal of the property, which wound up being $1.43 million.

Before a report was sent to council, the Manitoba Housing and Renewal Corporation, a provincial Crown company, made the city a formal offer: one loonie.

In spite of this offer, Winnipeg real estate managers are recommending council approve the sale at the appraised value.

"Like any negotiation or any real estate transaction, there's usually a gap somewhere in the middle," said Winnipeg planning, property and development director John Kiernan. 

"The value we identified was fair market value, on the open market. If I was another person looking to purchase a property, I might too offer a dollar," he continued. "That being said, our public service recommendation is not to accept less than fair market value."

Brian Pallister's Progressive Conservative government declined to comment on the $1.43-million gap between what Winnipeg wants for Vimy Arena and what Manitoba is willing to pay.

"The province is currently working with the City of Winnipeg on the land transfer process. At this time, all parties are following their respective processes," said Andrea Slobodian, a spokesperson for Families Minister Scott Fielding.

The mayor's office also declined to comment. Jeremy Davis, press secretary to Mayor Brian Bowman, deferred to council's property committee, which will consider the sale recommendation on Monday.

Pending approval at that committee, the plan will move over to executive policy committee before heading to council as a whole on Jan. 25. The sale requires the approval of a two-thirds majority of council, rather than a simple majority, because it involves the disposal of recreational land.

The Bruce Oake Memorial Foundation is eager to see the plan wind its way through council.

The plan still faces opposition, even from councillors who agree the opioid crisis requires action.

He said he remains unhappy he was not informed of the plan until this fall, while the city, province and the Oake family were in talks as early as May, according to a report to council.