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.