On Jan. 29 City Council passed a motion stating there is a housing Emergency in Ottawa – there is currently a list of more than 12,000 people waiting for an affordable home. This number includes those waiting in shelters and motels. This incredibly high number of Ottawa residents waiting for a permanent home has barely budged.
On the same day, the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (formerly the OMB) wrapped up a three-week hearing on the proposal to move the downtown Salvation Army shelter to Montreal Road and build a mega-shelter.
After two years of waiting, the three-week hearing touched on where a shelter belongs – not on a main street – social impacts, and the impact to economic development for the area.
It is fair to say, that after two years of fighting, Salvation Army’s proposal has done more than bring an entire community together – it has questioned what is acceptable to press upon a community.
As the chair of Ottawa Community Housing and a councillor with more shelters than anywhere else in the city, I live the realities of the homelessness and housing crisis every day.
With a crisis that has reached a tipping point, we can not continue to try and solve this with the same old model. We also can not expect a community to bear the responsibility of calling into question this unsuccessful model when we know it already is failing.
Now we wait for the adjudicator to make a decision. I want to thank SOS Vanier for all its hard work and dedication. I am proud to represent Vanier, a caring and engaged community.