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Barrhaven councillors fail in attempt to block plan for tent-like migrant centre | CBC News

Motion provokes heated debate over whether 'Sprung Structures' are a dignified form of shelter

A rendering of a Sprung Structure provided by the City of Ottawa. (City of Ottawa)

A pair of Ottawa city councillors from Barrhaven tried to derail a plan to use tent-like structures to shelter up to 300 asylum seekers, but they faced blowback from colleagues tired of seeing their recreation centres filled with bunk beds for migrants.

In November, council gave city staff the authority to pursue semi-permanent shelter options, including those from a company called Sprung Structures, amid a surge in shelter demand driven by newcomers to Canada.

There is now a short list of three undisclosed sites that could host two Sprung Structures as part of a planned refugee welcome centre, but Barrhaven East Coun. Wilson Lo worries it's all happening without proper scrutiny.

He introduced a motion on Wednesday to take staff's authority away.

"Using Sprung Structures sets us five steps back," Lo said. "We're basically shuffling newcomers within the shelter system…. It really just kicks the can down the road."

Barrhaven West Coun. David Hill, who served in the Canadian Forces, seconded Lo's motion. He said migrants deserve more than "communal living."

"There's no one that has lived in a sprung shelter here more than me. I've lived in it in 45-degree heat in the dusty Kandahar desert. I've lived in it in the winter in Gagetown, New Brunswick," he said. 

"As much as we want to dolly up the language of what these shelter structures are, the structures are cloth with a support."

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