Salvation Army shelter proposal would duplicate services, Vanier organization says
Salvation Army's architect, zoning consultant and security experts fielded questions at community meeting
A social services agency in Vanier said the Salvation Army should have consulted local groups to avoid duplicating services in its proposal for a community hub and shelter at 333 Montreal Rd.
Michael McLellan, chair of the Vanier Community Services Centre, raised the question of consultation and overlapping mandates during a community meeting Tuesday hosted by the Quartier Vanier BIA, which included presentations by the Salvation Army.
The Quartier Vanier BIA — which opposes the Salvation Army's current plan and cites zoning issues — held Tuesday's meeting to finalize its own submission to the city's planning department.
"What I heard tonight in [the Salvation Army's] presentation is a lot of duplication," McLellan said at the Richelieu-Vanier Community Centre.
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The Vanier Community Services Centre and other groups, including Action-Logement and Entraide Budgétaire Ottawa, already provide housing supports, financial literacy advice and food banks, McLellan said.
"It's exactly the services that he was describing that they would offer in the community, just a few blocks from where all these service providers have their offices and workplaces," he said.
The size of the proposed Montreal Road facility — which would boast 350 beds, 140 of them reserved for emergency use — could also have a negative impact, according to McLellan.
'It's a question ... of overload'
"Bringing in this organization means more people coming into the community that don't necessarily live in the community," he said. "It's a question, to a certain extent, of overload, of capacity to manage these kinds of needs."
McLellan would support a smaller centre in the ward and decentralized services spread out in communities that don't have local providers.
Marc Provost, executive director of the Salvation Army Ottawa Booth Centre shelter, said the organization is looking to contribute to the work that's already being done in the area.
"We're certainly not looking to duplicate anything," Provost said. "We're working very hard at offering services that are complementary to what is existing, or at filling gaps."
Provost looks forward to meeting with social agencies in the area to talk about how they can better work together.
McLellan also said he was concerned the facility would have a name that was too similar to his organization's French name, though the Salvation Army said they hadn't settled on a final name.
Call for business impact study
Business owners and residents had an opportunity to raise their concerns in a meeting that was often heated, with heckling and cheering drowning out some responses.
Elie Gharib, who owns several Vanier properties including 99 Montreal Rd., said a tenant left one of his properties because of the Salvation Army's proposal, and that Gharib is now planning to sell.
"Because of the proposal I'm going to put it for sale," he said.
Gharib is worried about the size of the proposed project and said it would bring similar problems faced at the Salvation Army's ByWard Market location, despite what the organization says about its design features.
"Everybody was banking on Vanier going up in price," Gharib said. "We were all working to improve it, you know, by putting new houses, new facades, fixing the places."
'I feel like they didn't address the concerns'
Natalie Raffoul, a lawyer whose business is on Montreal Road, asked the Salvation Army to explain how they chose the site, which is zoned as a traditional main street.
Architect Barry Hobin and consultant Miguel Tremblay said the majority of the services provided at the site don't contradict traditional main street zoning.
The parcel of land is big enough to allow for an inner courtyard space for clients, three entrances and separate wings so that people coming for different services would all feel welcome, Hobin said.
But Raffoul felt the Salvation Army's presentation came up short.
"I feel like they didn't address the concerns," she said. "They have done no business-impact study on the kind of impact this will have on businesses and on attracting more businesses."
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The Salvation Army said they would consider a business impact assessment.
"We hear the concern and I think we're part of the solution," Provost said. "We're there for the people that need the services and the community as well."