Ottawa-Vanier MPP airs concerns ahead of Salvation Army debate

On the eve of a mammoth planning committee meeting to deal with a controversial Salvation Army project in Vanier, the MPP for the area is expressing concerns with the controversial project.

MPP raises concerns about drug use, pedestrian safety in latest letter

Nathalie Des Rosiers, MPP for Ottawa-Vanier, said in a letter that the proposed Salvation Army compex doesn't align with the province's commitment on housing first models to address homelessness. (David Smiley/courtesy CCLA)

On the eve of a mammoth planning committee meeting to deal with a controversial Salvation Army project in Vanier, the MPP for the area is expressing concerns with the controversial project. 

Ottawa-Vanier MPP Nathalie Des Rosiers said in a written statement addressed to city councillors Monday evening that her constituents have been contacting her office about the Salvation Army's proposed relocation to the neighbourhood.

"The Salvation Army's proposal to relocate its services to 333 Montreal Rd. has been and remains a matter of great concern to the people of Ottawa-Vanier and across the city," Des Rosiers wrote. "I write today to convey the concerns of many of my constituents, and my own, regarding the upcoming City of Ottawa planning committee decision."

The city's planning committee will hear from more than 145 people over a three-day meeting at city hall starting Tuesday morning over the Salvation Army's plan to build a 350-bed facility at 333 Montreal Rd. 

The meeting comes after multiple protests against the proposal from Vanier residents and business owners since June when the project was first announced. 

Among the concerns raised in Des Rosiers' latest written statement is the impact the complex will have on the "character" of Montreal Road as a main street and how it could put pedestrian and cyclist safety at risk. 

Residents also expressed concerns that the fact Salvation Army has no plans to offer harm reduction services could lead to alcohol and drug use in the streets. 

"These activities could jeopardize the success of some programs that service vulnerable populations," the MPP wrote. "Many people who deliver services to an already marginalized and at-risk clientele believe the Salvation Army service model will put their clients' wellbeing and prospects of success at risk.

"I do not think that this should be overlooked."

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

She also said the proposed shelter runs counter to the province's commitment to putting housing first policies at the forefront of its fight against homelessness. 

"We need to find a solution that works for everyone, that both meets the Salvation Army's need to move out of their current location, and the needs of Vanier's community," she said. 

At the federal level, Mona Fortier has been another voice of contention in the debate about the controversial project.

The MP for Ottawa-Vanier has been against the Salvation Army's proposal from the beginning and released a joint statement with Des Rosiers and Rideau-Vanier Coun. Mathieu Fleury in June expressing her concerns. 

The marathon meeting at city hall will begin at 9:30 a.m. in council chambers.