On November 22, after more than 25 hours of debate and deliberation at Committee and Council, the majority of Council (16-7) voted in favour of amending the City’s Official Plan and Zoning Bylaw to allow a shelter component as part of the Salvation Army’s application for a 350 bed residential care facility to be located at 333 Montreal Road.
I did not support the proposal. Let me be clear, I have the utmost respect for the Salvation Army and recognize the important role they play in serving our most vulnerable population. Having said that, I believe that this process failed the city, the residents of Vanier, and lacked sufficient planning rationale.
Regrettably, there was a dearth of leadership on this file. Having listened to almost all of the 147 delegations, it was evident that there was an absence of meaningful dialogue with the community and unwillingness to compromise. When dealing with such sensitive and impactful land-use planning issues, community engagement is a critical part of the process. More needed to be done to address the community’s concerns and to foster a better sense of understanding.
My colleague Councillor Nussbaum had put forward a motion at Planning Committee to defer the application and had requested that the City Manager strike a 100-day task force that would include all relevant stakeholders. While the motion failed, I too implored the Salvation Army to consider this option as a demonstration of good faith and to signal to the community their willingness to be a strong community partner. In my opinion, it was not too late to get this right.
I struggled with my decision to vote against this proposal. The Salvation Army does good work in our community and their services are needed. There were no winners today. I am disappointed at how this process unfolded.