The Long Wait Is Over As Salvation Army Church Opens

All good things are worth waiting for.

That cliché could not be more relevant for the Barrhaven Salvation Army Church, which held its opening celebrations Sat., April 13.

Commissioner Lee Graves, who with his wife Debbie serves as the territorial leader of the Salvation Army in Canada and Bermuda, recalled how the church left its old location in the city on Woodroffe Avenue in 2007 with the plans of eventually moving to a new church in Barrhaven.

“I wonder if you would have had the courage to step out, as you did then, if you knew the timeline,” Graves said, drawing laughter from those in attendance.

One of the original delays of getting the building on the edge of the South Nepean Park at 102 Bill Leathem Drive built was the recommendation from Ottawa city staff to reject the plans for the church and community centre.

Staff had recommended not allowing the building of the church and a community centre as it falls within the Airport Operating Influence Zone.

Council voted 9-1 to give the green light to the church and community centre. Ottawa International Airport Authority said that there is too much noise for the facility. The church and community centre would be two-and-a-half kilometres from the airport’s busiest runway.

The Airport Operating Influence Zone restricts noise-sensitive development, but the zoning rule excludes schools, places of worship, daycares and retirement residences.

“I think for me, the words ‘Are we there yet?’ come to mind,” said Graves to smileds and more laughter of the gathering. “And we watched. And we watched. And we watched. And we waited. And we waited. And we waited. In fact, we went out of the country for five years, and we came home to be surprised that we were still waiting… But this does truly represent a significant milestone.”

Barrhaven East Councillor Wilson Lo brought greetings from the City of Ottawa.

“The community spaces that are here now, and what’s to come in the future, are going to be really valuable as a hub and a gathering space for residents both in Barrhaven and across the City of Ottawa,” Lo said.

“I just hope there are no residents in Barrhaven actually named Sally Ann,” Lo said, drawing more laughs, “but I really want to congratulate the Salvation Army Barrhaven Church for getting to where you are today. I am proud to welcome you as a new neighbour and friend to the community.”

Nepean MPP Lisa MacLeod also played on the delays in getting the church built.

“I just marked my 18th anniversary as the MPP and it seems I’m the only person older than the designs of this building,” MacLeod said.

MacLeod praised the work of former Barrhaven Councillor Jan Harder for her work on the Salvation Church project and helping to make it become a reality.

MacLeod also praised the Salvation Army in Barrhaven for their assistance in helping feed residents after the Sept. 2018 tornado ripped through Barrhaven and left the community without power for three days.

“The community did that,” she said. “Jan (Harder), Darrell (Bartraw) and myself together did that. But we couldn’t have done it without the support of the community and a big part of that was this local congregation. So I want to say thank you to the many who participated. When we think of the Salvation Army, that’s what we think of.”

MacLeod also followed suit to draw some laughs about the church’s timeline, saying that she is glad to be here for the opening of Phase 1 of the church and she can’t wait for Phase 2 “in about 20… I’m not even going to say it because I will probably still be your MPP.”

Nepean MP Chandra Arya brought greetings from the federal government.

“This is what happens when you stand firm and do the right thing,” Arya said, praising the church’s leaders for persevering through the delays. “We have the best country in the world because of our society. And our society is good because of organizations like the Salvation Army.”

The Salvation Army will be hosting a free concert Sat., May 4 at 7 p.m. featuring the Canadian Staff Songsters of the Salvation Army for an evening of music and worship. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.