What Would William Booth Think About the Salvation Army’s Proposed New Booth Centre in Vanier?

In 1890, William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army, published In Darkest England and the Way Out. Booth devoted his life to aiding those unfortunates found in the desperate situation of unemployment and economic depression in East London of the latter 1880s. In his Darkest England book, Booth outlined his plan to regenerate London’s destitute poor living in appalling conditions which provided the foundation for the future social work of the Salvation Army. Darkest England outlined three successive stages in Booth’s plan for social reform. A “City Colony” and a “Farm Colony” would provide food, shelter, training and work for the destitute and unemployed. Ultimately emigration to a “Colony Across the Sea” would offer new futures and new lives for those rehabilitated by the Salvation Army scheme. Continue reading


Three New Homeless Shelters in Three Canadian Cities, Three Different Approaches and Outcomes of Community Engagement

The announcement of a new emergency shelter in a neighbourhood, perhaps more than any other land use, most often leads to emotionally charged opposition from residents concerned about rising crime, falling property values and the overall decline of the community’s quality of life. Such opposition is often described, usually by shelter supporters and civic advocates, as Not-In-My-Backyard or NIMBY reactions. Of course, NIMBY responses are not just limited to emergency shelters – they are widespread to almost any new type of development in established communities such as a high-rise condominium building or new alignment of truck routes (think bridge over the Ottawa River). Continue reading

Salvation Army’s Proposed Emergency Shelter in Vanier: A Community Hub or Community Fortress?

There is a very brief reference on pages 16/17 in the planners’ November 14, 2017 report dealing with the proposed Salvation Army shelter in Vanier to a subject matter known as Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design or CPTED. Simply stated, CPTED focuses on the proper design and the effective use of the built environment or form that can lead to a reduction in the fear and incidence of crime and an improvement in the quality of life. As I noted in my previous blog, the fear of increased crime is a main concern of communities with respect to homelessness. Continue reading

Homelessness, Crime Trends and the Fear of Crime in Rideau-Vanier

There is one common issue underlying community opposition to the presence of homeless or homeless shelters in a neighbourhood in any city in Canada – the fear of rising crime. The level of fear also appears to be correlated by the size of shelters and/or the concentration of homeless people in a community. Such concerns about community safety are often expressed in terms of undesirable or illicit behaviour most commonly associated with homelessness – loitering, panhandling, trespassing, petty theft, burglary, public intoxication, drug dealing, prostitution etc. From a business owner’s perspective, the concentration of homeless in a commercial area potentially drives customers and tourists away and adds to business costs for things like security and cleaning. Continue reading

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

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