Sal­va­tion Army balks at pro­posed 140-bed cap in new Vanier shel­ter

It’s hard to pre­dict what the so­cial need will be in fu­ture years, says spokesman

Ottawa Citizen - - CITY - JON WILL­ING jwill­ing@post­media.com twit­ter.com/JonathanWilling

The Sal­va­tion Army isn’t keen on the idea of the city ’s reg­u­lat­ing the num­ber of shel­ter beds in a so­cial ser­vices com­plex the or­ga­ni­za­tion plans to con­struct in Vanier.

Glenn van Gu­lik, spokesman for the Sal­va­tion Army, said the or­ga­ni­za­tion be­lieves coun­cil has al­ready ad­dressed the plan­ning ques­tions through the Novem­ber 2017 vote ap­prov­ing the nec­es­sary land-use changes for 333 Mon­treal Rd.

The Sal­va­tion Army is “com­fort­able” with the coun­cil-di­rected re­stric­tion of 801 square me­tres for the shel­ter, van Gu­lik said. Ide­ally, the Sal­va­tion Army won’t need to have 140 shel­ter beds, but it’s hard to pre­dict what the so­cial need will be in fu­ture years, he said.

Coun­cil ac­tu­ally re­duced the shel­ter’s gross floor area from the staff-rec­om­mended 900 square me­tres.

Rideau-Vanier Coun. Mathieu Fleury has told coun­cil mem­bers that on Wed­nes­day he’ll ask them to sup­port a cap of 140 emer­gency shel­ter beds in the shel­ter, which would be part of a larger com­plex.

Fleury said he wants the Sal­va­tion Army to “reaf­firm” to the pub­lic that 140 will be the max­i­mum num­ber of shel­ter beds, while urg­ing the city to hold the or­ga­ni­za­tion to that com­mit­ment.

City clerk and so­lic­i­tor Rick O’Con­nor said that first it will take three-quar­ters of coun­cil mem­bers present to vote in favour of con­sid­er­ing Fleury ’s mo­tion, since coun­cil al­ready ap­proved the zon­ing amend­ments for the Sal­va­tion Army.

Coun­cil voted 16-7 last Novem­ber to change the zon­ing by­law and of­fi­cial plan to al­low the Sal­va­tion Army to build a shel­ter and so­cial ser­vices com­plex at the Mon­treal Road prop­erty. The Sal­va­tion Army wants to re­lo­cate its Booth Cen­tre from the ByWard Mar­ket.

Busi­nesses have ap­pealed coun­cil’s de­ci­sion to the On­tario Mu­nic­i­pal Board, with fi­nan­cial help from com­mu­nity group SOS Vanier.

Last month, coun­cil ap­proved a mo­tion that en­sures any fu­ture at­tempt to ex­pand the area of the shel­ter must come to plan­ning com­mit­tee and coun­cil, but op­po­nents of the de­vel­op­ment worry coun­cil hasn’t gone far enough to reg­u­late the Sal­va­tion Army’s bed count in the shel­ter.

Drew Dob­son, the or­ga­nizer of SOS Vanier, said the coun­cilap­proved re­stric­tion on the size of the shel­ter would ac­tu­ally al­low more beds un­der the city’s own shel­ter stan­dards.

The stan­dards say sleep­ing ar­eas in a shel­ter must give each adult 3.5 square me­tres of space, not in­clud­ing the 0.75-me­tre sep­a­ra­tion dis­tance from the edges. An 801-square-me­tre shel­ter could pro­vide up to 228 beds un­der those guide­lines.

Dob­son also flagged a let­ter from the Sal­va­tion Army’s lawyer sug­gest­ing the 140-bed fig­ure in the orig­i­nal plan­ning ap­pli­ca­tion is a “demon­stra­tion” and that the ac­tual num­ber will vary over time.

“That dis­ap­pointed me and made me very con­cerned,” Dob­son said.

It’s in the Sal­va­tion Army’s in­ter­ests to com­mit to the 140-bed cap for the shel­ter, Dob­son said. “I think they run at a danger that, if they don’t sup­port it, they look hyp­o­crit­i­cal,” he said.

At the same time, Dob­son said he has asked the city to give the Sal­va­tion Army flex­i­bil­ity to add beds in the shel­ter un­der crit­i­cal cir­cum­stances, such as dur­ing a cold snap when home­less peo­ple need some­where warm to sleep.

Op­po­nents of the Sal­va­tion Army’s plan have been ea­gerly await­ing a hous­ing and home­less­ness re­port for coun­cil’s com­mu­nity and pro­tec­tive ser­vices com­mit­tee to pro­vide feed­back on how the city funds shel­ters. City staff are gath­er­ing in­put be­fore they un­der­take a re­view of the 10-year home­less­ness plan at the half­way point in 2019. The plan was im­ple­mented in Jan­uary 2014.

Coun. Diane Deans, who chairs the com­mu­nity and pro­tec­tive ser­vices com­mit­tee, agreed with a re­quest from Mayor Jim Wat­son on Mon­day to put off the re­port one month un­til a meet­ing in March so it aligns with a sep­a­rate re­port com­ing from Coun. Mark Tay­lor, who is the mayor’s li­ai­son on hous­ing and home­less­ness is­sues.

Glenn van Gu­lik

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