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
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.