Agreement to cap shelter's growth 'fluff,' neighbours say

The City of Ottawa's final attempt to cap the number of beds allowed at the new Salvation Army shelter on Montreal Road has fallen flat, disappointing community members fighting the project.

Salvation Army shelter on Montreal Road to have 140 beds, with room to expand in emergencies

An artist's rendering of the proposed Salvation Army facility on Montreal Road in Vanier. Neighbours are appealing city council's approval of the project to the Ontario Municipal Board. (Salvation Army)

The City of Ottawa's final attempt to cap the number of beds allowed at the new Salvation Army shelter on Montreal Road has fallen flat, disappointing a community group fighting the project.

It has no teeth, it's unenforceable and it really doesn't help the community.- Drew Dobson, SOS Vanier

Councillors initially passed a plan that would force the charity through a formal approval process if it wanted to expand its emergency shelter. The goal was to give the community some comfort that the facility wouldn't balloon in the future.

But the bylaw did not include a cap on the number of beds, which the shelter has pegged at 140.

On Wednesday council settled for a written commitment from the Salvation Army not to expand beyond 140 beds.

"This is just a fluff letter," said Drew Dobson, the leader of SOS Vanier, a community group formed to combat the Salvation Army proposal.

"It has no teeth, it's unenforceable and it really doesn't help the community."

Drew Dobson, the leader of SOS Vanier, says the city's final attempt to cap the number of beds allowed at the new Salvation Army shelter on Montreal Road is not sufficient to protect the community. 0:35

Responding to emergencies

Dobson said the way the rules are written now, the Salvation Army could increase the number of emergency shelter beds in the future without consulting the community.

Coun. Mathieu Fleury, who represents Vanier, initially hoped to enshrine the 140-bed cap in the zoning bylaw, forcing the charity to go through a formal public consultation process before expanding its shelter.

But the Salvation Army said that wouldn't give the shelter the flexibility it needs to respond to potential housing emergencies.

The Salvation Army's Glenn van Gulik said under these rules, the shelter would be able to install temporary beds if needed.

The agreement will at least limit the amount of funding the city is obliged to give the shelter.

The community has filed an appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board in an effort to strike down council's approval of the project.