Vanier’s efforts on Salvation Army are not NIMBY-ism

Vanier’s efforts on Salvation Army are not NIMBY-ism
Often, when a large re-zoning application is proposed, the changes draw participation and concerns from neighbours. Typically this feedback is apprehensive regardless of whether or not the application meets the larger planning goals of the City. These concerns, are often perceived and dismissed as a “Not In My Backyard” (NIMBY) style of protest from some residents in that given neighbourhood.
The planning submission from the Salvation Army (SA) proposes more beds than the Montfort Hospital – by over 25%. It should require City-wide engagement from communities and elected officials, not just the Vanier community.
Given that the city provides the Salvation Army with funding ($44 per bed per night, to the tune of around $5 million per year) the way that those dollars are allocated needs to be thoughtfully considered and need to be based on results. The financial agreement with the Salvation Army is under the Community and Protective Services Committee and the zoning application is under the review of Planning Committee. This highlights that the application isn’t simply a planning exercise because what they are planning to build directly binds the financial agreement that the City of Ottawa has with the Salvation Army.
From the social perspective it is about helping our community’s most vulnerable residents more efficiently so that we can help more people; whereas, from the financial perspective it is about helping our most vulnerable in the most cost-efficient way possible in order to save taxpayer dollars.
The truth of the matter is that this planning application is not simply a major land use change to one of Ottawa’s most important main streets. The Salvation Army’s model of centralizing all services is innately flawed.
The financial agreement and planning review are two of the relevant components, but should not be why this matters to you, as a resident of Ottawa.
There is no community where this mega shelter fits. This is not about opposing the SA investments in Ottawa, it’s about providing better living conditions and supports for our most vulnerable. The Vanier community took a very mature, organized, and evidenced-based approach to the challenge posed by the Salvation Army. The community organized 10 working groups. Each group reviewed specific elements and provided thoughtful and implementable solutions to the Salvation Army’s Mega Shelter proposal. 
We all want to help, but funding and supporting the Salvation Army for shelter services like we have these past 40 plus years hasn’t gotten us closer to the goal of ending homelessness. The needs continue to grow and the emergency conditions for our most vulnerable have deteriorated.
The 10 working groups have brought meaningful proposals that could, with Salvation Army and the City’s openness, bring forward a meaningful shift in the service model and bring new innovative housing and homelessness strategies to Ottawa. We would support a decentralized model that supports our most vulnerable residents.
Albert Einstein said the definition of insanity is doing something over and over again and expecting a different result.
Vanier community leaders have brought many ideas that would achieve something different. From the community organized housing first symposium, to the available government lands, to the best practices review in homelessness… their efforts are remarkable.
The reality is that it takes ‘two to tango’ – we need the Salvation Army to be willing to work with leaders in our community to completely rethink their approach. Further we need the City to lead when it comes to Social Services and not just take a back seat. Renew existing funding agreements is automated process; that’s not what we’re looking for. The residents of this great City deserve a public administration that strives to challenge the status quo and bring forward innovative solutions.
Tired of seeing our homeless continue to struggle in vulnerable emergency settings?
The research shows that when you are homeless the first thing you need is HOME not a shelter.
Vanier isn’t a NIMBY community. Our efforts strive to demonstrate that the archaic shelter model can be done better. We need you, the residents outside Vanier, to care, listen and engage on the issue, and review the solutions brought forward by our community. We don’t believe in the proposed model. It doesn’t have a place in any community in Ottawa.
Let’s support our most vulnerable by innovating when it comes to supports, stabilization and housing projects.