“Sickening”

The just approved Salvation Army shelter on Montreal Road will never be built.

That’s according to a confident Rideau-Vanier Coun. Mathieu Fleury who fought the project with a mountain of unhappy Vanier residents on his side. At city council on Wednesday, despite those efforts, the project was approved a 16-7 vote in favour of proceeding. But following the meeting, Fleury appeared quite confident there were still too many obstacles in front of it for the project to ever proceed. Welcome to the chaos that can be city hall.

For three days last week, residents opened up their hearts at planning committee, expressing serious and heartfelt concerns about what a shelter on a main street in their community could do to their neighbourhood. The biggest obstacle at the moment is an inevitable appeal at the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) which could bog the project down in time and money. And as Fleury sees it, there are other far more viable options to locate the shelter which haven’t been explored.

He’s right of course. Such a huge issue and yet again it wasn’t handled properly. Where was the rush, where was the fire? Understandably, Fleury wanted the issue deferred so he had time to talk to his fellow councillors following the committee. Rejected. This isn’t surprising of course, Mayor Jim Watson likes to push through messy items so as not to tarnish his image. Well, too late for that. This tremendous mess which devastated a community didn’t have to happen and it shouldn’t have happened. And it certainly highlights the ugly side of Ottawa City Hall.

Sadly, this isn’t the first time that something like this has taken place at city hall. And it isn’t the first time and it won’t be the last that a group of councillors and a horde of bureaucrats step in and hurt people needlessly. Gloucester-Southgate Coun. Diane Deans, who argued against the project, was the most eloquent at the council table, saying the entire process sickened her.

“This is a failure of leadership,” Deans said, suggesting they all had failed the community by not coming together. “This has been a complete failure of process.” Exactly. (As an aside, she invoked former Ottawa mayor Bob Chiarelli’s name during her speech, praising him for his approach to getting councillors to work together, is sure to annoy Mayor Jim Watson. Not necessarily a bad thing!)

So to think that because this project has been so badly handled and may never see the light of day and has sent community into turmoil, it’s all pretty shameful.

Not out of the ordinary at city hall, but shameful nonetheless.

2 Comments

  1. As a supporter of the excellent work that the Sally Ann does (not necessarily of this project though) I am incredibly disappointed at the way in which this project was handled. It is simply disgusting to me that the Mayor and his counsel toadies knew about the proposal and kept it from public scrutiny for months, maybe years. It is inconceivable that the Sally Ann is so incredibly inept at public relations.
    I can only conclude that the secrecy was planned and not simply an error in judgement on the part of both the City and the Sally Ann. They simply did not want to hear the objections that they knew would be put up. By keeping it secret for so long, they concluded, it seems to me, that they would get this rammed through before opponents could mount an effective opposition. They guessed horribly wrong!

    With appropriate meaningful consultation, who knows, this proposal may have received the support of the people of Vanier. I believe that the objections are as much directed at the incredible arrogance and deceit shown by the City officials and the Sally Ann, as against the actual project itself. And, in this context, if the Sally Ann and the City lose at the OMB, it will serve them right for the contemptuous manner in which they went about “consulting”.

    It is unfortunate and sad that the merits of this proposal were overshadowed by the politics of it. The people who need these services will suffer as a result of the arrogance and incompetence of people who will still be able to go home to good food and a warm bed despite their disgusting actions on this file.

  2. I was astounded by the arrogant sermon aimed at residents by Keith Egli urging them to work with the Salvation Army or is it the Invading Army. This after the residents were excluded from discussions between the City and the Salvation Army which took place long before the application came forward. Perhaps the Councillor would have had some credibility had he given that same speech to City officials and the Salvation Army when they first met. My advice to Vanier residents is to fight the proposal every inch of the way. Had residents listened to his advice during the Montfort debate, the hospital would no longer exist. I’m sure the Councillor would be receptive to having the project on a main street in his ward should the OMB reject the application.

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