Regardless of the outcome of today’s city council vote, the future of the Salvation Army’s planned facility on Montreal Road will not have been decided. One way or another, this will turn into a long and protracted battle, involving lawyers and eventually a hearing before the Ontario Municipal Board.
One of the greatest lessons of this story is that all of that aggravation might have been avoided through a better process. Ideally, we wouldn’t have to rely on organizations like the Salvation Army to deliver critical social services to the community. But if we do, we should have a city-wide plan for what services will be offered and where they will be located, rather than have to respond one at a time to specific development proposals from not-for-profit groups.
With both the opioid crisis and the homelessness challenge, we’ve seen city officials having to catch up to community groups on vital service delivery, rather than lead the way. Instead of leadership and consensus, we have conflict and, in this case, costly legal battles. It’s simply not good for anyone.