Ottawa

Salvation Army shares plans to move shelter to new facility in Vanier

The Salvation Army formally announced a proposal Thursday morning to build a new facility in Vanier that will replace the emergency shelter it currently operates in the ByWard Market.

Coun. Mathieu Fleury says there should be a 'city-wide' process to find new location

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

The Salvation Army formally announced a proposal Thursday morning to build a new facility in Vanier that will replace the emergency shelter it currently operates in the ByWard Market.

Glenn van Gulik, a Salvation Army spokesperson, told CBC News Wednesday the agency is opening a new facility on Montreal Road and will be shutting down its George Street facility in a few years if the proposal is approved and built.

"We've had the mayor and others express concerns about programs and services specifically in the downtown core," van Gulik said.

"While it's not a direct response to that, we are excited this will be a solution. We believe it will be a solution to the challenges that have been expressed by those in the community and our leaders in our city."

Van Gulik said the Salvation Army wants to build a 103,000-square-foot centre at 333 Montreal Rd. in Vanier — the organization currently leases space for a thrift store there — that will serve a variety of community needs.

A conditional offer for the Salvation Army to buy the building, which includes a motel, has been accepted but is contingent on the approval of City of Ottawa zoning and official plan amendments.

"The facility will be a first-of-its-kind, and it's something that will enable us to deliver programs and services, many that we're delivering now, but will allow us to deliver those in new and innovative ways," he said.

More of the plans for this $50 million project were revealed Thursday morning, with architect Barry Hobin pitching a building made of wood and glass that would act as a social support hub, one that would be home to counseling, skills training and housing spaces.

The property at the corner of Montreal Road and Ste Anne Avenue is owned by the Salvation Army. It's currently a motel and thrift store. (Google Maps)

Councillor wants other locations considered

Van Gulik said the agency's existing shelter on George Street in the ByWard Market would be shut down and sold to help pay for the new facility.

Rideau-Vanier councillor Mathieu Fleury, whose ward includes both the current and proposed sites, had previously expressed concerns about how the George Street emergency shelter operates and its safety measures.

 He said there have been issues with access for emergency crews and day-to-day operations.

He said the proposed move is an opportunity for the ByWard Market to thrive and for the Salvation Army to run a shelter that's built and designed for a specific purpose, rather than one that's retrofitted in an existing building.

"A new built-form in the right location can really, really change the approach, change the dynamic for the [ByWard] Market, but also can offer a better service to our most vulnerable community members," Fleury said.

Mathieu Fleury says the city shouldn't put a new Salvation Army shelter in Vanier without making sure it's the best choice of location. 0:35

Fleury said he has concerns, however, that Montreal Road wouldn't be the right location for the community.

"We're struggling with the business mix," he said. "We've seen a drop in crime rate and we're working closely with a really engaged community and unfortunately, in my mind, the Salvation Army is coming out a bit late here. They should've recognized their investment and asked the community for feedback on a potential location."

Fleury said he wants a city-wide discussion on where Ottawa should have its emergency shelter.

'It has to be on the right site'

"For me, there's a lot of concerns relating to community engagement," he said. "Let's make sure it's done right because that infrastructure, that purpose-built emergency shelter, will be in our community for a long time.

"That investment is worthwhile, but it has to be on the right site and designed accordingly."

Van Gulik said the Salvation Army has already done some community consultation ahead of the proposal that will be part of Thursday's announcement.

The agency will now be going through an intense engagement process with the community, city officials and stakeholders, he said.

The Salvation Army may move its emergency shelter on George Street if its proposal for a new facility on Montreal Road in Vanier is approved. (Google Streetview)

Corrections

  • A previous version of this story stated that Salvation Army owns the building at 333 Montreal Rd. In fact, Salvation Army is presently leasing the Thrift Store space. A conditional offer for the building by the Salvation Army has been accepted by its owner, but is contingent on City of Ottawa zoning and official plan amendments being approved.
    Sep 14, 2017 8:55 AM ET

With files from Stu Mills