Larga Baffin expansion gets planning committee backing

No date yet for when Ottawa city council will consider final approval for centre that houses Inuit in city for medical care

Ottawa’s planning committee has approved a report recommending approval for a new Larga Baffin centre. (Image courtesy of DTAH Architects)

By Meral Jamal

Larga Baffin, a boarding residence for Inuit staying in Ottawa for advanced medical care, is one step closer to its goal of building a new, larger centre.

On Thursday, the City of Ottawa’s planning committee recommended approval for the proposal to open a 350-bed facility at the intersection of Hunt Club Road and Sieveright Avenue.

Larga Baffin’s current facility on Richmond Road can accommodate 195 visitors but is regularly over capacity.

During the four-hour virtual meeting, one of the concerns raised by residents related to increased traffic the project might bring into the mostly residential neighbourhood.

Fara Amini, a member of the working group for the Solera neighbourhood which includes 125 single-family homes, said the current proposal “is an application for a mega-complex with two high-density structures … on a very congested network of Hunt Club Road and Bank Street that were truly not designed for construction [and] development of such scale and scope.”

The fact the new facility will not only be a medical boarding home, but a community service and cultural centre for non-residents as well, will have traffic-related implications, Amini said.

“This is another example of the grievances of the community.”

Her traffic concern was echoed by Coun. Diane Deans, who is not a member of the planning committee but represents the ward where the new facility would be developed.

They’re concerned the new facility — and especially the proposed location of a driveway entrance at Sieveright Avenue — might bring institutional traffic, or traffic related to the facility, into a residential area.

In approving official plan and zoning bylaw amendments needed for Larga Baffin to build the new facility, the committee attached amendments of its own to the staff report.

It called for several additional measures, including a study of the impact on traffic.

The study will provide a before-and-after traffic count that assesses whether the proposed development increases cut-through traffic within the community, and will identify possible mitigation measures if they’re required.

The first traffic count will take place prior to construction, and the second will be conducted three years following occupancy at the Larga Baffin facility, if council approves the project.

Another concern shared by Deans and community members is the size of the new facility, which Larga Baffin proposed to be six storeys, or 22 metres in height.

Sylvie Lee, president of the Upper Hunt Club Community Association, presented an image she said showed  actual construction of the facility might be bigger than shown in image renderings of the site submitted as part of Larga Baffin’s application.

“We believe the renderings shared by the proponent were specifically done to dwarf and give the impression that the building is not massive,” Lee said.

“In reality, when we were walking through the site, we could see … these renderings are exact when we compared the pictures side by side.”

The image shared by Lee was created by a community member who works with software such as Google Earth, using the dimensions listed in the application for the facility.

Lily Xu, an architect and urban planner with the city, said the image provided by Lee has been created using technology that is accurate.

Deans has previously said she would like to cap construction at 18 metres and four storeys. At the meeting, she proposed limiting the height of the back of the facility to 14 metres, saying it would provide a better transition into the residential community, while still maintaining six storeys and 22 metres at the front.

The motion was opposed by the committee, but another amendment passed will require Larga Baffin to reduce the height of the mechanical penthouse that is part of the facility and currently adds an additional six metres to the total height of the building.

Now that the proposal has passed the committee stage, it’s not known yet when the project will go before Ottawa city council for final approval.


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(5) Comments:

  1. Posted by Community Resident on

    The zoning committee did not engage with the serious deficiencies identified by both the community groups and the area councillor. For example, from the perspective of a procedural nature, the redevelopment site is uniquely subject to a future land use study requirement, and the developer of this project put one together to cover the entire area without input from the actual property owners covered by the study. It is important to understand that the concern is the development not the use. The developer has in fact already projected a multi-storey residential unit development besides the temporary accommodation building. It has refused to answer questions about how long it is contracted to provide Nunavut service. Lastly, it has shown no desire to be neighborly. It has simply refused to engage with the surrounding community about infrastructure concerns generally and resorted to media campaigns, through social media and elsewhere, maligning the community. The developer has succeeded in conflating their profit motives with the desire for reconciliation, and clearly the zoning committee had no desire or ability to dig deeper.

    • Posted by Alex on

      Nice propaganda……buy the land then if you dont want inuit to have a care facility near you;

      • Posted by In The Long Term on

        The usage of this centre for residents/patients (not ‘Inuit’) is a relatively short-term concern, just years at most, residents have to think much longer term about what this sort of construction will mean.

  2. Posted by Community Resident on

    That is quite the perspective, Alex. Underlines the point the community is making, actually. We don’t have the money to just go buying up land. The developers (not the people who the facility will temporarily accommodate) do. All we can do is ask the developer and the city to accommodate our concerns. The changes they sought effectively allow them to increase four storeys to six storeys and to build a future multi-storey residential building — which are simply not sustainable based on the current traffic and infrastructure issues in the community. Instead on focusing on the actual changes requested, the developers, their planners, consultants and lawyers have wrapped up it as a take-it or leave-it scenario to maximize their profit and paint the community as somehow better resourced than they are.

    • Posted by Objective Thoughts on

      I think everyone agrees that the underlying purpose of providing essential medical services is important. It is just unfortunate that the developer and the City officials do not think that the clients would be better served by a location closer to some hospitals or at a location that has much more greenery and tranquility instead of feet away from one of the busiest arterial roads in Ottawa. It is too bad that it is just not important enough for a better solution. Who really wins here?

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