Salvation Army shelter zoning stands after appeal rejected

A provincial tribunal has thrown out an appeal that tried to stop a controversial Salvation Army shelter complex on Montreal Road in Vanier.

Local businesses said project didn't mesh with traditional main street

The Salvation Army received city council approval in 2017 to build a 350-bed facility on Montreal Road in Vanier. Of those beds, 140 would be for men using the emergency shelter. (Salvation Army)

A provincial tribunal has thrown out an appeal that tried to stop a controversial Salvation Army shelter complex on Montreal Road in Vanier.

Individual local businesses came together to challenge the 350-bed project, which city council approved amid great controversy in November 2017.

During a hearing at the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT) this past January, they argued that a shelter was not permitted on traditional main street. Various experts described how the shelter didn't line up with provincial planning policies, and would have a negative impact on businesses and the reputation of Vanier and the francophone community.

But in a 100-page decision released Friday, adjudicator Richard Makuch said they didn't provide "sufficient evidence to meet the burden imposed on them in these appeals." He said the rezoning and amendment to the city's official plan should stand.

Plans have changed

"I'm delighted to hear the result that the appeal has been dismissed and we have the green light, barring anything else, to move ahead with the project for 333 Montreal Rd.," said Salvation Army spokesperson Glenn van Gulik shortly after the decision was released.

But the Salvation Army has no plans to build the shelter with 350 beds as first proposed and now approved, said van Gulik.

In June 2019, the organization presented a greatly modified version of the project ​​​​​with as few as 70 emergency beds, plus supportive housing.

The Salvation Army also said it would keep its addictions services at its Booth Centre in the ByWard Market, rather than relocate that element to Vanier.

That new version of the shelter came in the days ahead of a second debate at city council, when Rideau-Vanier Coun. Mathieu Fleury attempted, but failed, to get the earlier approval revoked.

"Those commitments we made last year ... will stand," said van Gulik, noting the Salvation Army plans to have more talks about the project as he believes it might continue to evolve.

There's no date for construction, he said.

"Our goals were and remain to move this project forward. This city, as we've seen even over these past few months, absolutely needs more affordable and supportive housing," van Gulik said. "This city needs options for people who are in crisis."

The City of Ottawa's solicitor, David White, told council in a memo late Friday that the 2017 council decision had been upheld as good land-use planning, and he would provide more details after they had reviewed the LPAT decision.