November 13th 2017
The Salvation Army's proposal to relocate its services to 333 Montreal Road has been and remains a matter of great concern to the people of Ottawa-Vanier and across the city. I write today to convey the concerns of many of my constituents, and my own, regarding the upcoming City of Ottawa Planning Committee decision on the zoning amendments requested by the Salvation Army.
I absolutely respect the City of Ottawa’s Planning Committee’s authority to make decisions regarding the proposed zoning amendments included in the Salvation Army’s proposal. However, since many constituents reached to my office to express their concerns, I thought that it was appropriate for me to share with you some of the points raised that should be considered.
Homelessness is a serious issue that requires the cooperation of all levels of government with civil society in order to be addressed effectively. Certainly, we all aim to confront both the roots of the problem and its current manifestations. The commitment of the Salvation Army toward helping those in need in the community is certainly not in dispute.
The Ontario government is committed to reducing homelessness and poverty, including ending chronic homelessness by 2025. The provincial objective is to invest in Housing First policies rather than in emergency shelters. These objectives were reiterated by the Province to the City of Ottawa last September. It is important to consider how this 350-bed centre, including 140 emergency beds, will integrate with such governmental frameworks which will determine how funding decisions must be made in the future.
Many constituents, organizations and business owners worry that the Salvation Army Project at 333 Montreal Road undermines the Traditional Mainstreet character of Montreal Road: it may impede the promotion of a pedestrian-oriented development and the safety of pedestrians and cyclists. Additionally, concerns have been raised with respect to delivery and service truck traffic or emergency vehicle access as they may affect the flow of traffic on Montreal Rd.
Of particular concern is also the impact that the 350-bed facility would have on the delivery of social services in the area. Several service providers have shared their concerns with me stating that their services’ outcomes and success would be jeopardized by the presence of this facility and the activities it will generate in the neighborhood. In particular, the impact on the Wabano Health Centre’s clientele should be considered.
We also know that Vanier is home to many families who are facing complex social and economic problems. Just last year, the Vanier Community Service Centre launched its Social Pediatrics Hub a few hundred meters from 333 Montreal Rd.
One of the issues raised is that the Salvation Army does not house harm-reduction programs for its clients and that some of the Salvation Army’s clients may use drugs or alcohol on the street. These activities could jeopardize the success of some programs that service vulnerable populations. 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.
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. An investment of this magnitude should align with municipal, provincial and federal homelessness prevention priorities and should be able to integrate properly into a neighborhood.
I am happy to provide further details if necessary.
Nathalie Des Rosiers
MPP – Députée, Ottawa-Vanier
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