120 people sign up to speak at Planning Committee meeting about Salvation Army proposal

At least 120 people have signed up to have their say at City Hall starting Tuesday, as the Planning Committee meets to discuss the Salvation Army’s controversial proposal for 333 Montreal Road.

The multi-use facility proposed by the Salvation Army includes 140 emergency shelter beds, addiction services, transitional housing, street outreach programs, and more. It would replace the services offered at the Salvation Army’s Booth Centre on George Street, in the ByWard Market.

The report the Planning Committee will discuss is about changing the zoning rules in the area to allow a shelter to be built on the land, which is also bordered by Montfort Street and Ste. Anne Avenue. City Staff have recommended approving the request.

Planning Committee chair, councillor Jan Harder, told Newstalk 580 CFRA’s News and Views with Rob Snow the committee takes community engagement very seriously.

“We’re going to take the time to listen to anyone who wants to come out,” Harder says. “The bottom line is, for us, this is democracy. In this city, City Hall is where people have the opportunity to come to their Planning Committee and have their say and that say is theirs to own and the five minutes they take will be theirs to say, as long as they do it respectfully.”

Harder said 120 delegations have signed up to speak. The Committee has set aside three days for the meeting.

Drew Dobson, the owner of Finnegan’s Pub, just down the street at 349 Montreal Road, is also the creator of the group SOS Vanier, which has been vocal in its opposition to the project.

He tells News and Views he is just one of the delegations signed up to speak at the meeting.

Dobson says Vanier already has its share of social services.

“Would you put all your gas stations in Kanata when you’re designing your city?” He asks, rhetorically. “Or would you spread them throughout the city? The same goes with your social services. Vanier is saturated. The glass is full. If you put more social services in, it will overflow.”

Dobson says some residents are concerned about property values, adding they may not have expected a shelter to move in to the neighbourhood.

“Shelters are not allowed on traditional main streets, so they knew when they bought their house that there would not be a shelter there because it’s not a listed use for a traditional main street.”

The report before the Planning Committee says the Salvation Army’s application includes the relocation of an existing shelter, and would not “preclude the ability for Montreal Road to develop in a manner that meets the intention of the Traditional Mainstreet designation.”

It also says the current zoning of the area does not prohibit a shelter or residential care facility. The report adds the zoning by-law amendment application “proposes to include shelter as a permitted use on the subject site and proposes amendments to performance standards to accommodate the proposed development.”