Petition likening ByWard Market shelters to cancer removed

A ByWard Market businessman who said homeless shelters were like "cancer" for the neighbourhood is softening his stand and taking down a petition calling for the shelters to leave.

Business owner who called for homeless shelters to move out says comments 'misconstrued'

The Salvation Army's Booth Centre is one of three homeless shelters in Ottawa's ByWard Market. (CBC)

A ByWard Market businessman who said homeless shelters were like "cancer" for the neighbourhood is softening his stand and taking down a petition calling for the shelters to leave.

Patrick O'Shaughnessy, owner of J.P. Monuments on York Street, posted the petition last week on the website savethemarket.ca. By Monday afternoon it had collected more than 2,600 signatures.

In a statement posted on the website in place of the petition, O'Shaughnessy said he was never calling for an end to the shelters.

"Some people misconstrued what I wrote as somehow being in favour of the destruction of shelters or even a direct challenge to homelessness. Nothing could be further from the truth," he said.

Concentration still a concern 

O'Shaughnessy said he remains concerned about the concentration of three shelters in a small geographic area of the city, and believes supports for the homeless should be decentralized for everyone's benefit. 

"That problem was that the shelters in my immediate area make it very difficult to be good neighbours," he wrote in the statement.

He also said planned pickets outside his business and feedback from the local business improvement association convinced him to change his stance.

"Today, I was informed that our business would be picketed if we did not remove the website. The problem on my corner is difficult enough without having that worry."

O'Shaughnessy said he's also prepared to meet with Peter Tilley, director of The Ottawa Mission, to discuss the issue.