Equal Opportunities West - Vimy arena

 Many of you have heard about the controversy that EOW finds itself in currently over the Vimy arena location.


Below is a copy of a letter that had been sent to various news outlets in hopes of setting the record straight:




 I am deeply concerned with the turn the conversation over the future use of the  old Vimy Arena is taking, specifically the fact that one of the interested parties, Equal Opportunities West is rarely mentioned.


The issue not being discussed is how EOW followed the prescribed path and procedures in expressing their interest in this location and was consistently stalled because the city told them to wait while it was doing due diligence when seemingly overnight and surprising even the local city councillor, the Bruce Oake Foundation emerged as the winner of a process that according to what the city told EOW wasn’t even happening.


Let’s be clear there is nothing to choose between the social value of a long-term drug rehabilitation facility and the new home for an established non profit that supports persons with disabilities; both are absolutely needed, both have value and to suggest that the needs of one should automatically surpass the needs of the other is frankly misguided. Both organisations deserve support and a place to exist.


The debate surrounding this issue should focus on established procedures and how flaunting them resulted in one organisation consistently getting the brush off when expressing an interest in the Vimy arena while the other, out of the blue, emerged as the designated new occupant of the location.


There is no evidence I know of that suggests that the Oake family did anything other than follow the procedures as they were explained to them. What is concerning and in light of the mayor’s professed belief in transparency ironic, is the fact that Equal Opportunities West also followed a procedural path laid out by the city only to be brushed off whenever they asked for an update. They certainly were never told there was another player interested in the location.


As Darcy Oake says, nothing suggests that the Oake organization had any hand in this strange turn of events but someone certainly did and whoever influenced proceedings, the result is that two worthy organizations find themselves in an adversarial position they should never be in.


 Sadly EOW staff have even received threats from supporters of the city’s  position both in social media and by telephone and have been tarred with the “not in my neighbourhood” brush. Nothing could be further from the truth, we have never disputed the value of the work the Bruce Oake Foundation is doing or where they should be located, we only ask for a transparent process applied equally and fairly to all interested parties.


The correct solution would be to reset the clock to zero, give both interested parties the same information and procedures to follow and decide the matter in a public forum with community input based on merit. Let’s call out the city to apply an open and transparent process that respects the citizens and the two organisations involved.


Having said all that, I believe that Equal Opportunities West should move forward as the new tenant of the Vimy arena, not because they are a better or more deserving cause than the Bruce Oake Recovery Centre but because they have undeniable and long standing ties to the specific location in the community. For 6 years EOW has operated from a location only two blocks from Vimy that they have grown out of and are in need of more space. They have developed respectful and often friendly relationships with businesses and individuals in the community; their participants work or volunteer in the neighbourhood, their distinctive vans are known to the citizens and their E-waste recycling program is known to and enthusiastically supported by the community.

Susan Morgan
Executive Director
Equal Opportunities West

Added: Fri December 1st 2017


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