Meeting on contentious Vanier shelter expected to draw big crowd

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The Salvation Army’s plan to build a new homeless shelter in Vanier over the objections of the neighbourhood’s residents is likely to dominate discussion at an open house Wednesday.

The Christian charity formally announced in June its proposal to replace the emergency shelter it currently operates in the ByWard Market with a multipurpose facility on 333 Montreal Rd.

Salvation Army Montreal Road

An artist’s rendering of a proposed new Salvation Army facility on Montreal Road in Vanier. (Salvation Army)

The choice of site, at a location currently owned by the organization and operated as a motel and one of the charity’s thrift stores, has been unpopular.

Hundreds of residents, some complaining about increased traffic, drug use and panhandling, packed a meeting at the Richelieu-Vanier Community Centre earlier this summer to register their opposition to the plan.

Councillor, BIA, oppose location

Rideau-Vanier Coun. Mathieu Fleury has been vocal in his opposition of the choice of location and wants the project put on pause and the Salvation Army to consider spreading the services it would offer to multiple sites.

Fleury has also been a critic of how the Salvation Army has handled security in and around the shelter’s current George Street location.

Councillor Mathieu Fleury Ottawa Salvation Army Oct 19 2016

Coun. Mathieu Fleury says he wants the charity to pause the process and consider spreading its services to other, smaller locations. (Steve Fischer/CBC)

The project has also drawn criticism from Michael McLellan, the head of the Vanier Community Services Centre, who says the group should have consulted them to avoid duplicating services, and the Quartier Vanier BIA, who opposes it over zoning issues.

But the Salvation Army says it has been consulting with the city since 2015 and that while it looked at other possible locations, they were not suitable.

The open house is scheduled to be held between 1 p.m. and 8 p.m. Wednesday at the Ottawa Conference and Event Centre at 200 Coventry Rd.