Vanier man files complaint over mayor's handling of shelter move

A Vanier resident has filed a formal complaint to Ontario's ombudsman over the way Mayor Jim Watson handled the debate to move the Salvation Army's shelter to Montreal Road.

Philippe Denault claims mayor's early endorsement of Salvation Army plan influenced council

SOS Vanier formed to fight the Salvation Army's move to Montreal Road. The group criticized the Mayor Jim Watson for his handling of the issue. (Amanda Pfeffer/CBC)

A Vanier resident has filed a formal complaint to Ontario's ombudsman over the way Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson handled the debate to move the Salvation Army's shelter to Montreal Road.

The complaint was filed with the support of several members of SOS Vanier, a group that formed to fight the shelter relocation.

The group criticized Watson for publicly supporting the shelter's plan to move to the city's Vanier neighbourhood before an application had been formally submitted or the public had a chance to weigh in.

There was significant opposition to the plan from neighbours; a public hearing on the rezoning lasted three days.

'I'm not satisfied'

Vanier resident Philippe Denault claims Watson's early endorsement of the project ultimately influenced council's decision.

Denault submitted his complaint to the provincial ombudsman this week. The city's integrity commissioner rejected an earlier complaint, Denault said.

"I'm not satisfied with this," he said. "I still believe he did something wrong."

In November Watson said he had publicly supported the project because "members of the media asked me for my opinion and I gave you my opinion. I thought it made sense. There was clearly a need for a purpose-built facility."

The provincial ombudsmen's office has not indicated whether or not it will pursue the complaint.