Letter to Susan McMillan: Territorial Commander of Salvation Army

Susan McMillan

The Salvation Army                                                                                                  
Territorial Headquarters for Canada and Bermuda
2 Overlea Boulevard
Toronto, Ontario M4H 1P4


Dear Commissioner McMillan,         

I’m writing you today to request a meeting on Friday May 4, 2018, to discuss the Salvation Army’s project at 333 Montreal Road in Ottawa. Specifically, I would like us to discuss alternatives to the proposed plan.

As you have been made aware by your team, the following Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) appeal has been filed: case number PL180060 (PL180060, and PL180061).

This project will experience a roadblock of potentially two years as a result of awaiting a hearing date for the Official Plan Amendment application. There is also a strong chance that the fundamental premise of having a mega shelter on a main street will be reconsidered. During this waiting period, services and living conditions of our shelter users are not improving.

I would like us to form a partnership so that we can better meet the community needs, while meeting the organizational goals of the Salvation Army.  I would like us to work together as a community and as a city to find alternative options that would be better for our most vulnerable. The options could also be less costly, less divisive and even carry the support of the community.

There are a number of sites in the City with the appropriate zoning for a shelter, and we are willing to help find alternative solutions. The City of Ottawa’s Real Estate department would be able to work with you to review viable locations that are government owned. This was not completed as part of the original proposal but is still possible.

Relocating the service hub and shelter from George Street will bring the same challenges and outcomes currently experienced in the ByWard Market to a new community. In order to help our most vulnerable residents, we need to innovate, decentralize and offer services that are on the cutting edge of research and best practices.

Vanier is a welcoming community that has worked hard to bring positive changes. A traditional main street in the heart of a community, is simply not the right location for a mega shelter.

I recommend you regain the community’s respect by putting your proposal on hold and engaging in dialogue with key stakeholders at the City, social service providers, local police and most importantly shelter clients.  Together, we can identify locations and modern models of services to help the most vulnerable residents, women and men alike, in our community.

As evidenced in the delegations that were heard at committee, it is clear that there was a lack of transparency, engagement, and public consultation by your organization in the submission of your project.

If you are homeless what you need is a home. My door has always been open and my sleeves are rolled to work with the Salvation Army on better options. There are solutions available that would circumvent the need for a costly court hearing and provide faster and more integrated solutions.

A few community leaders and I are requesting a meeting with you to discuss alternatives. I am confident that together we can make this right, and bring forward innovative solutions to better serve our most vulnerable residents.

Thank you for accommodating my request.