Was the Planning Act Used as a Stratagem in the Case of Vanier and the Salvation Army’s Proposed Shelter Complex?

It was over 50 years ago when Jane Jacobs wrote in her famous The Death and Life of Great American Cities published in 1961 that “cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody.”

Following the lead of Jane Jacobs, the City of Ottawa prides itself as being a leader in community engagement and community building. One of the strategic directions in the City’s Official Plan is “building liveable communities”. According to the City’s web site, the Plan

proposes to create more liveable communities by focusing more on community design and by engaging in collaborative community building, particularly in and around the Mixed-Use Centres and Mainstreets that have a great potential for growth.”  Continue reading

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The Salvation Army’s Vanier Development Proposal: Who is the Real Applicant?

When applying for amendments to the City’s Official Plan and/or Zoning Bylaw, applicants are required to submit several technical reports as supporting documentation which are then used as part of the review on the part of appropriate City staff (not just planners). These documents include, for example, environmental site assessment, transportation/traffic impact, geotechnical investigation, building elevations and site plan and, planning rationale. Document requirements can vary depending on the complexity of the application. All of the technical documents for the Salvation Army proposal are made available to the public on the City’s web site. Continue reading

When Charity Organizations Clash with Communities: How the City of Ottawa Failed Vanier

‘Third sector organizations’ is a term often used to describe a wide range organizations that are neither government nor private sector. It includes voluntary and community based organizations such as registered charities, non-profit agencies, self-help groups and neighbourhood associations, social enterprises and cooperatives.  Some of the common features of third sector organizations are: they tend to focus on social needs of marginalized families and individuals in terms of poverty, health care, affordable housing, domestic violence and other issues; they tend to be community or location based in terms of addressing specific needs within a neighbourhood or the larger municipality; and, they tend to be strongly dependent on volunteers, public funding and/or household and corporate donations to sustain their programs and services. In effect, third sector organizations represent extensions of municipal government’s role in improving the overall quality of life of local residents. Such organizations address community needs in areas where government (and private sector) fail to respond effectively.  Continue reading

Sound Land Use Planning Principles Don’t Necessarily Lead to Sound Decision Making: The Case of the Salvation Army’s Proposed Shelter in Vanier

Between November 14 and 17, 2017, the Ottawa Planning Committee heard 3 days of emotional presentations from members of the public over the proposed Salvation Army social services complex on Montreal Road in Vanier. The large majority of delegations were residents opposing the project, worried what would happen to their neighbourhood if the 350-bed emergency shelter was built in the middle of their community. Continue reading

Not Being #1 Is Not That Bad: Ottawa’s Technology Ecosystem, Toronto-Waterloo, and Connectedness

The Ottawa Citizen recently published a special series of articles looking at the strengths and weaknesses of Ottawa’s technology sector dubbed The IT Factor. One theme that appears to emerge is that while the Ottawa’s technology sector has had several success stories, there is a general lack of recognition and appreciation of its entrepreneurial ecosystem, nationally and globally. One of the articles stated that this is one of the biggest barriers the city faces when trying to compete against other Canadian ecosystems to get onto the world stage. Autonomous or self-drive vehicle R&D has been identified as a key sector which has strong potential for leading Ottawa’s technology sector in the future and emergence as a Centre of Excellence in this next wave of technological change. As stated in the IT Factor series, Ottawa’s tech sector has long struggled to get out from under the shadow of the public service as well as its tech neighbours, Montreal and Toronto. However, neither of those two cities have a pronounced reputation for autonomous-vehicle innovation, which means Ottawa could readily take up the cause. Continue reading

WOW! Why is the Ottawa Citizen so down on Eastview?

WOW was my first reaction when I read the Ottawa Citizen Editorial Board’s opinion piece this morning on “Why We Support The Salvation Army”. One of the main reasons the Editors are supporting the Salvation Army project on Montreal Road in Vanier is that the site has already a “rundown motel and poorly maintained parking lot” along a stretch of Montreal Road where few would dare to walk along in the day never mind the night. Presumably, this is because of the rundown character of the area and because, as they state, “many potential clients for the new social services hub are already in this area”. The Editors also claim that there are no developers planning “classy condos” in the neighbourhood. The WOW factor became even more pronounced when reading their statement that they doubt the Salvation Army will not “drag things down much” more than it is and that “Vanier residents…are arguing to protect a gentrified community that doesn’t yet exist”. Continue reading

Dear Mr. Egan Re: My comments on your article on the Salvation Army proposal

Kelly Egan, a journalist with the Ottawa Citizen recently wrote an opinion article giving support to the Salvation Army’s proposed shelter on Montreal Road. I did post a response to the article but kept it fairly short. I decided to write a longer response here. Continue reading