Salvation Army's Vanier site clears another hurdle

·3 min read
The revised site plan for the Montreal Road facility includes 211 beds, down from the original 350.  (Salvation Army  - image credit)
The revised site plan for the Montreal Road facility includes 211 beds, down from the original 350. (Salvation Army - image credit)

The controversial Salvation Army complex on Montreal Road in Vanier passed another hurdle Friday when Ottawa's planning committee endorsed the site plan.

The plan for the residential care facility and emergency shelter has been before the city for five years. It has faced much criticism including an appeal to the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal, which was rejected.

The design presented to planning committee Friday features an H-shaped complex with a four-storey west wing, lowered from the original six storeys, and a three-storey east wing. The two wings would be connected by a two-storey communal area.

The complex will have 211 beds, down from the 350 originally proposed. Of those, 32 beds would be in supportive housing units and 99 would be shelter beds. A proposed addictions program has been eliminated from the plan.

Despite the changes, the majority of the public delegations at Friday's meeting denounced the plan.

"We still don't know what's going to happen in that space," said Nathalie Carrier, executive director of the Vanier BIA.

"The Vanier community has all along debated the fact that there should be housing and not shelters. Shelters should be the exception to the rule," she said.

Carrier believes the Salvation Army is duplicating services already offered in the community, a view echoed by other service providers who spoke during Friday's meeting.

Trevor Pritchard/CBC
Trevor Pritchard/CBC

Carrier, who has participated in the process as a stakeholder, accused the Salvation Army of having no real interest in collaborating with the community.

In response to a request for an interview from Radio-Canada, the Salvation Army said it was not ready to comment.

Marc Maracle, executive director of Gignul Non-Profit Housing Corporation, echoed some of Carrier's concerns.

"The Indigenous community and the Ottawa Aboriginal Coalition has been very clear from the beginning and have maintained our concern about the scope and scale of the proposed facility and how does it fit in with the Vanier community," he said

"We also take the position that programming informs design, so what's going to happen in this building is going to shape the spacial configuration and ultimately how it's expressed in design form on the street."

Some in favour

Some delegations spoke in favour of the project.

"The design and the site plan have been strongly informed by the voices of the clients that we serve, including our Indigenous clients," said Wendy Muckle, executive director of Ottawa Inner City Health, which will provide services at the site.

"I would also suggest to you that of all the voices that you're going to listen to today, that perhaps the voices of the people who actually need to access and use the facility should perhaps be the most important."

Trevor Pritchard/CBC
Trevor Pritchard/CBC

The plan does not require further approval by council. City staff will now oversee any further changes to the plan.

Coun. Mathieu Fleury, who is not running for re-election, said he will continue to fight the project by working with upper levels of government to block funding for what he called "outdated shelter models."

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