Vanier businesses push back against shelter move
No consultation prior to proposal to move Salvation Army shelter to Montreal Road, businesses say
Some business owners in Ottawa's Vanier neighbourhood are pushing back against the Salvation Army's plan to build a new shelter on Montreal Road, fearing the move will simply import problems with crime and drug use at the current location in the ByWard Market.
The charitable organization said the new $50-million centre will be a social support hub where clients can access counselling, skills training and housing. The ByWard Market building will be shut down and sold to fund the new development.
Drew Dobson, who has owned Finnigan's Pub on Montreal Road for 16 years, said he was stunned to hear a large shelter could be moving in two doors down.
"Vanier is a community that had struggled in the past but has made great strides and improved recently, and I don't know that bringing the problem from the market here is a step forward," he said.
Dobson has started a petition on behalf of concerned community members.
"The Vanier area already has issues with crime, gangs, drugs, arson, poverty, prostitution, graffiti and panhandling and does not need the added stress of a massive Salvation Army shelter," the petition reads.
Mark Kaluski, chair of the Vanier BIA, said he was surprised by the lack of consultation with community and business owners.
I'd be happy to have it in Vanier. I just don't want it right on Montreal Road right when we're trying to rebuild a new commercial district.- Mark Kaluski, Vanier BIA
Kaluski said he welcomes the investment and jobs the project will bring the area, but said locals could have helped the Salvation Army choose a better location.
"I'd be happy to have it in Vanier. I just don't want it right on Montreal Road right when we're trying to rebuild a new commercial district with restaurants and shops and hotels and interesting and unique features."
The BIA would rather see an "anchor business" that would attract more commerce to the area occupy the prime real estate on Montreal Road, Kaluski said.
"We're trying to drive customers to Montreal Road and this prime piece of land is being used for a social service, which is definitely needed in Vanier, but maybe not where we would have wanted it," he said.