Ottawa

'It's tragic': Councillor derides draft report supporting proposed Vanier shelter

A draft city report on the Salvation Army's proposed shelter for Vanier recommends the controversial project go ahead, according to Coun. Mathieu Fleury.

$50M shelter on Montreal Road has been met with frequent protests

Coun. Mathieu Fleury says the draft city report which recommended the Salvation Army's proposed Vanier shelter go ahead is 'simplistic' and doesn't address his concerns. (Matthew Kupfer/CBC)

A draft city report on the Salvation Army's proposed shelter for Vanier recommends the controversial project go ahead, according to the local councillor.

Rideau-Vanier Coun. Mathieu Fleury says the report doesn't address the complex issues around zoning and the city's homelessness strategy that have been raised by the Montreal Road shelter project.

"It's tragic for our community," he said. "People want certainty and that's why we bring forward zoning plans. None of the zoning plans speak of that use. When you start seeing that, what's the use of having approved plans at the city when they're not respected?"

CBC News has not seen a copy of the draft report. Fleury said it included no changes to the Salvation Army's original proposal.

$50M shelter on Montreal Road

In June, the Salvation Army proposed a $50 million shelter at 333 Montreal Rd. The facility would have 350 beds, with 140 of those spaces reserved for emergency stays. 

It would replace the organization's shelter in the ByWard Market on George Street. Fleury supports moving that shelter and investing money in shelter beds, but opposes the Vanier location.

An artist's rendering of a proposed new Salvation Army facility on Montreal Road in Vanier. (Salvation Army)

Over the summer, the proposal was met with consistent protests from residents and businesses along Montreal Road and elsewhere in Vanier. 

The analysis is quite simple and the subject is quite complex.- Coun. Mathieu Fleury

People expressed concerns the new building would replicate safety problems at the existing location as well as hamper commercial development on Montreal Road.

Fleury said the city's report doesn't respond to criticism that the Salvation Army's proposal fails to follow the city's official plan, address the fact Montreal Road is zoned as a "traditional main street," or resolve the issue of the concentration of shelters in his ward.

"To me there's a lot of elements in there that are false, and the analysis is quite simple and the subject is quite complex," he said.

Fleury also noted the report didn't properly count the number of shelters in his ward or acknowledge that there has been a cap on new shelters in his ward dating to 2008.

The cap was supposed to be four, but a fifth facility was allowed, he said, adding that there are now 12 shelters in the ward — none of which is mentioned in the draft report.

Community feedback not counted

​Fleury said the draft report did not properly measure the loud response from the community, which has organized under the SOS Vanier banner.

"When you look at the petition numbers, when you look at the comment numbers, they're very low," he said. "Just emails to us — where the planner was cc'ed — we have double what is presented in this draft report."

Fleury said he received thousands of comments about the proposed shelter.

More than 150 people protested in front of the Salvation Army's open house about a proposed shelter in Vanier in September. (Amanda Pfeffer/CBC)

In July, Mayor Jim Watson said the Salvation Army did a thorough job of choosing its location and that there would be opposition no matter where the site was placed.

Despite the mayor's apparent support and the city draft report, Fleury said the momentum isn't necessarily with the Sally Ann.

"We haven't heard from the mayor since," he said. "My [council] colleagues have been very silent, very neutral to it, which I respect. Because it means that they take the issue very seriously."

Fleury said the problems in the report will make it easier for him to convince his colleagues.

Salvation Army anticipating next steps

The Salvation Army's spokesperson, Glenn van Gulik, said his organization has not received anything official from the city but looks forward to continuing the application process.

The city has set aside Nov. 14, 15 and 17 for the planning committee to consider the rezoning application.

The official version of the report is expected on Nov. 7.

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