Dozens of Vanier citizens remained to the bitter end of a three-day meeting over the controversial Salvation Army proposal. They gave the Coun. Mathieu Fleury a standing ovation, even though the committee approved the complex. (CBC News) Three days of marathon meetings over Salvation Army’s controversial plan for a large complex in Vanier came to an emotional end Friday night, as Coun. Mathieu Fleury broke down during his final remarks before the vote that ultimately gave the green light to the project. Coun. Mathieu Fleury is overcome with emotion when he thanks the Vanier community for coming out to speak this week about their concerns over the Salvation Army proposal. (CBC News) At the end of Friday’s 12-hour meeting, Fleury began to thank the multitudes of community members who came to speak to the planning committee these last few days, but he had to stop after being overcome with emotion and, likely, exhaustion.
He waved off the chair’s offer to take a break, which led to the audience bursting into applause, even though it was clear by then that the Salvation Army’s proposal would be approved.
Fleury soon composed himself, and said with a light, if rueful, laugh: "La politique c’est degueulasse." Politics is disgusting.
The community shared its councillor’s feelings. Many in the audience also had tears in their eyes, and seemed almost as exhausted — not just from this week’s meetings, but from months of organizing. Drew Dobson led the community opposition to the Salvation Army’s plan. (CBC News) "The thing is, you put in so much effort, you invest so much time, and you don’t get much sleep, so you’re emotionally invested," said Drew Dobson, owner of Finnigan’s Pub and leader of the groups opposing the complex.
He didn’t expect the vote to go his way, but "even though you know it’s coming, it’s disappointing." Planning committee approves plan
More than 140 people actually spoke to councillors this week (although more had signed up). Many said they had never spoken in public, let alone given a public deputation in council chambers, including two men who are currently clients of the Salvation Army. Despite massive community opposition to the project expressed by members of the public over this week, the planning committee approved the plan in a 6-3 vote Friday night. Councillors Jan Harder, Tim Tierney, Allan Hubley, Shad Qadri, Jean Cloutier and Stephen Blais voted for in favour, while councillors Tobi Nussbaum, Jeff Leiper and Riley Brockington voted against. (Fleury did not get a vote because he is not a member of the planning committee.)
The decision must now be approved by full council at next Wednesday’s meeting. More than 150 people protested in front of the Salvation Army’s open house last September about a proposed shelter in Vanier. It wasn’t the only protest. (Amanda Pfeffer/CBC) Controversial from the start
The Salvation Army’s proposal for a 350-bed facility at 333 Montreal Rd. has been controversial from the moment it was announced in June. The complex includes, among other things, a 140-bed emergency shelter, an emergency medical facility and other short-term programs to help homeless men.
There have been some prominent supporters of the Salvation Army’s plan, including Dr. Jeff Turnbull and Wendy Muckle of Ottawa Inner City Health, Deidre Freiheit of Shepherds of Good Hope and Peter Tilley of the Ottawa Mission. They attested this week to the fact that the services the Salvation Army offers are needed.
And no one disagrees that Salvation Army’s cramped location on George Street must be replaced. The charitable organization has been looking for a new location for seven years, and met Friday’s decision with reserved optimism […]
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