Ottawa community association fails to stop medical boarding house project despite $65,000-plus OLT appeal

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Ontario Construction News staff writer

A south Ottawa community association has failed in its bid to stop construction of a new medical boarding home for Inuit seeking treatment far from their communities in the far North.

The Upper Hunt Club Community Association had sought to raise $65,000 or more for an Ontario Land Tribunal (OLT) appeal against the Larga Baffin project on Sieveright Ave. near Hunt Club Road and Ottawa’s airport.

The OLT rejected the community association’s claims advanced at an April hearing last Thursday (June 8).

“The Tribunal was not persuaded that the instrument before it is premature given a lack of sufficient transportation infrastructure to support the growing community needs, nor that the cumulative impact of the proposed development would lead to increased risk to public safety,” the decision reads.

“The Tribunal accepts the findings that the proposed development does not significantly exacerbate the existing transportation, operational or safety issues, nor does it trigger the need for any offsite infrastructure improvements,” says the decision originally reported by CBC News.

Larga Baffin lawyer Michael Polowin told the broadcaster he is “thrilled” with the decision. “It’s a facility that’s sorely needed and will help a lot of people and now it gets to go ahead,” he said.

The community association had asserted the project has parking, traffic and building height problems. It will be built on a site near auto dealerships, construction company offices and scrubby light industrial land, developed long before the neighbouring residential neighbourhood was built in the 1990s.

Polowin said he believes this is the last legal hurdle for Larga Baffin to surpass. The planning firm behind the six-storey facility has said it expects to host Inuit from Nunavut by 2027.

The 220-room project will be the first purpose-built medical boarding home in Ottawa.

Larga Baffin suggests the project is similar to the Ronald McDonald House, with some guests coming for short stays to see a specialist while others stay several months to receive more intensive treatment.

”          CBC earlier reported that Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami president Natan Obed, whose organization represents Inuit across Canada, said he was “personally hurt” by some of the concerns raised at a public meeting last year and called some comments misguided and racist.

Other residents at that meeting spoke in favour of the development, the broadcaster reported. The current Larga Baffin facility on Richmond Road is often over capacity, with staff booking patients in local hotel rooms.

In February, the neighbourhood association sent out an email to community residents advising of what it described as a five-day hearing in April.

“Appearing before the OLT has a cost. Last September, we presented an estimate between $65K and $100K to be heard at the Ontario Land Tribunal. We were successful in collecting $35K and thank those who have already contributed toward this important initiative. As we are moving closer to the hearing date, set in mid-April, we believe we can complete the work within the lower end of the range of $65K,” said the message signed by The UHCCA Community Development Working Group.
“This note is to solicit your support for this last leg of work estimating to require $30K to offer us a reasonable opportunity to affect amendments to the current development proposal to address some of our valid concerns. It is not difficult to appreciate how a little bit of help from each of some 450 homes would go a long way towards raising concerns that in some respect affect everyone. It would also be helpful if you can reach out to your neighbours who may not be aware of the project proposal as it stands today.”

   Writer Mark Buckshon lives in the community affected by this development.

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