Salvation Army users offer differing opinions on Vanier move

As SOS Vanier continues to raise money to appeal Ottawa city council's approval of the Salvation Army's new complex on Montreal Road, CBC News spoke to three people who use the agency's services about the move.

SOS Vanier has raised $26K to challenge city council's decision to Ontario Municipal Board

The Salvation Army plans to move from its Booth Centre location to 333 Montreal Rd. (Olivier Plante/CBC)

Citizens' group SOS Vanier met again Sunday to plan its appeal of the City of Ottawa's approval of the Salvation Army's new complex on Montreal Road.

But what do the people who use the Salvation Army's services think of the proposal?

Last month council voted 16-7 to approve the complex, which includes a 140-bed emergency shelter. SOS Vanier plans to appeal the decision to the Ontario Municipal Board

CBC News spoke Sunday to three people who use the Salvation Army's services, and asked them for their thoughts about relocating to Montreal Road.

Andrew Frizzle

Andrew Frizzle, 29, has been homeless for three years. He either sleeps on the streets or stays at the Ottawa Mission, but he also uses the Salvation Army's services.

"I like being downtown a lot. Vanier is a ways away. You could really walk there if you need to, though. Vanier is walkable.

The bus is one thing [but] not everybody can afford the bus. Being downtown is valuable."


David has been homeless for a year-and-a-half and is currently taking the Salvation Army's residential life skills program.

CBC has agreed to withhold his last name at his request.

"The way I saw how the [Vanier] building's going to be like, I find it's going to be more secure for the homeless. But I know there's a big issue with [the Salvation Army] moving out there.

The public has to understand [that] nobody is perfect. We all have our faults and if we're willing to change, that'll be up to the one person. It's not up to the public, the way how we are. We shouldn't be judged for who we are because we're all human, we all have mistakes, we all have our faults.

I think them moving out to Vanier, it might help out a little bit more with the homeless."

André Garceau

André Garceau has been homeless for 10 years and uses the Salvation Army's services. His response has been translated from French.

"Vanier will be worse off than it is now. We're not all saints, [but] we're not all evil either. Some have psychological issues, but there is [drug and alcohol] consumption. It's here. We can't hide it.

Be it here or there, people will be consuming drugs. Vanier isn't like a brothel, but it's not like a very rich neighbourhood either. If the shelter moves there, we should expect more criminality. Criminality is everywhere, but now it's going to be localized in one central point."

SOS Vanier raises $26K

SOS Vanier said Sunday it has raised more than $26,000 in the last few weeks, and hoped to raise about $200,000 over the next six months.

"We have a fundamental problem with how they deal with housing and homelessness in Ottawa. We believe that shelters are a thing of the past, especially large shelters like the mega-facility they want to put on Montreal Road," said Drew Dobson, the group's spokesperson and owner of Finnigan's Pub on Montreal Road.

"We think that housing first is the way to go. We think that resources should be spent on affordable housing rather than shelters. In my view, shelters are just warehousing the problem."

He said the group is working to make sure the problem of homelessness is a main topic in next year's municipal and provincial elections.