Construction to begin this fall on new Salvation Army ‘Centre of Hope’ on Montreal Road

The Salvation Army hopes to begin construction on its new community hub in Vanier this fall, as the area councillor and residents continue to raise concerns about the proposed plan.

Ottawa’s planning committee approved the site plan for the new “Centre of Hope” at 333 Montreal Road last June, which will include 32 supportive housing beds and 99 in beds in the emergency shelter

Now, almost six years after first unveiling plans for the new facility to replace the Booth Centre, the Salvation Army hopes to break ground later this year.

“Looking at mobilizing and construction beginning later this fall, and then we’re hoping to open those doors – 2025, 2026 is sort of where our target is,” Salvation Army spokesperson Glenn van Gulik told CTV News Ottawa on Sunday.

“But, of course, we know that as we come out of these past years there are some challenges with timing of materials and all of those things, so our team is looking at that making sure that were going to be on track, on course to be able to open those doors just as quickly as possible.

“We know that the need is great; we know that we’ve got to get there as quickly as possible.”

Newly elected Rideau-Vanier Coun. Stephanie Plante and Mayor Mark Sutcliffe met with the Ottawa Salvation Army Booth Centre staff last week to discuss the project. Plante says she does not support another emergency shelter on Montreal Road or in Rideau-Vanier, and is pushing for more supportive housing in Ottawa

“We know housing first works, we know supportive housing can give people who have had setbacks back on their feet much quicker, much cheaper than the options being put forward here,” Plante told CTV News Ottawa.

Plante wants the Salvation Army to apply the Housing First lessons learned from its approach to homelessness developed in Finland and the Y-Foundation.  

According to the Salvation Army’s website, it manages three supportive housing units in Finland, providing apartments for people experiencing chronic homelessness. Social and healthcare professionals provide support for residents at the homes.

Plans for the new “Centre of Hope” on Montreal Road have sparked concerns in the community since the project was first announced.

“I don’t feel like we’ve been properly consulted,” Vanier business owner Drew Dobson said. “Yes, we have heard many presentations but they have not heard our response and they have not modified the proposal to deal with our needs.”

Community group SOS Vanier says the city is not getting value for money with the project.

“We want a housing first strategy, we went it to be open to immigrant families coming to Vanier and the city of Ottawa, that’s where the need really lies for supportive housing in our community and the city at large,” Peter Kucherepa said.

Van Gulik insists the Salvation Army has taken the concerns of the community seriously, including reducing the footprint of the project and adding more supportive housing units.

“Emergency shelters is still needed in the city of Ottawa, but these new 32 supportive housing units, six of which are accessible, will make it possible for us to reduce the size of the emergency shelter and continue to provide many of the programs and services that people count off every single day,” van Gulik said.

“Down the road, if we can transition some of this new Centre of Hope into more supportive housing, we’re committed to doing that. The flexible nature of this building is going to allow us to respond to those changing needs within the city of Ottawa.”

The Salvation Army is hoping to open the new “Centre of Hope” in 2025 or 2026.

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