Ottawa mayoral contender shoring up support on backs of Nunavummiut

Canada’s capital city needs to be its brother’s keeper and welcome new Larga Baffin facility

A new 220-room Larga Baffin building, depicted in this artist’s drawing, proposed to be built in Ottawa, ran into resistance from the city councillor who represents the ward where it could go, along with objections from people who live in the area. (Image courtesy of Larga Baffin)

By Corey Larocque

Ottawa mayor-wannabe Diane Deans appears to be shoring up her support base at the expense of the well-being of Nunavummiut, who need the services Larga Baffin provides.

Deans is the city councillor for the area in Ottawa where Larga Baffin wants to build a new 220-room boarding house for Nunavummiut to stay in when they go south for medical treatment.

News reports say Deans is going to run for mayor this fall. There will be a wide-open race to replace longtime Mayor Jim Watson, who is not running again. Candidates can officially register to put their name on the ballot starting Monday.

Deans threw cold water on Larga Baffin’s proposal at a virtual public meeting Tuesday, saying she objects to the plan “in its current form.”

That’s politician-code for “No… but I don’t want to be seen saying no. And I want to leave some wiggle room.”

She objects to its height and how much space it would take up.

She took the side of some residents who said Larga Baffin’s proposal is too tall, has too many rooms and will create too much traffic in the immediate area, which is mostly residential.

The opposition is classic not-in-my-backyard syndrome.

Deans’ opposition could be a hurdle for Larga Baffin. A thumbs-down from the well-connected councillor could set the tone when the proposal comes to a vote at a planning committee meeting, and ultimately when it’s time for city council to make a final decision.

Deans might even be mayor by that time.

Her opposition could be a cynical political move — but a shrewd one. Larga Baffin’s users don’t vote in Ottawa. Area residents do. In a crowded mayoral race, she will need the backing of people in her own ward.

As the capital, Ottawa gets the honour of hosting national institutions, such as the National Arts Centre and National Gallery of Canada, that other Canadian cities don’t.

Not to mention the 100,000-plus handsomely paid federal public servants who insulate the city from unemployment, guarantee a high quality of life and ensure steadily rising property values.

So, Ottawa benefits from being Canada’s capital. In exchange, there should be a readiness to be its brother’s keeper when it comes to providing services that other communities can’t.

It would be wonderful if Nunavut’s health-care infrastructure were robust enough to meet the needs of Nunavummiut at home. The reality, of course, is that it’s not.

As Nunavut’s population grows and the demand for health services increases, it will take decades before the territory is able to meet those needs on its land.

Welcoming a new Larga Baffin building is one little thing Ottawa can do to help Nunavummiut.


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(21) Comments:

  1. Posted by Doing Her Job on

    So, she is being a good politician and listening to her constitutents. Regardless, we Nunavummiut are beggars in this situation, and you know what they say about that.

    We rightly have no more voice with her than any other non-constituent.

  2. Posted by Binky the Doormat on

    Corey, it seems you are making a general attack on a specific claim.

    On the one hand you say Ottawa can and should help Nunavummuit by supporting the construction of a new building for Larga Baffin.


    Do you also agree that where that is done and how it looks can be discussed without precluding that point?

    To say this is NIMBY-ism is undoubtedly true. But labeling it a bad word isn’t enough explain what is happening here either.

    The right question seems to be ‘are the objections raised here legitimate ones? Can we understand those from the perspective of those who object in a way that we too might make those same objections?

    I don’t pretend to have the answers to those questions, but do think this is the ground we should be exploring here.

    • Posted by Reasonable Person on

      The deeper question here is why would anyone think the citizens of Ottawa have any obligation or desire to help those of us in Nunavut?

      A rational person in Ottawa could very reasonably ask why?

      • Posted by Binky the Doormat on

        When we refer to Ottawa in this way, I think we mean the corporation of the City of Ottawa, not ‘Ottawa’ as the personification of its people.

        Presumably the GN is paying for this building so neither the city or its taxpayers are on the hook for its costs. If that’s true, then what we are really referring to is the allotment of land.

        The facility is useful and makes life easier for Inuit and for the city. Why not allow for the GN to accommodate travelers from the Baffin region?

        Do you ask the same when Walmart wants to open a supercenter?

        • Posted by Dave on

          That’s the thing, you can’t open a Walmart there because it’s a residential area. With very few exceptions, you can’t build anything like this in a residential area. People’s back yards are literally feet away from Larga. When you look closely, it’s almost completely single family homes as i don’t see one apartment building in this area.

          A six story 220 room boarding in a single family home area. Who ever thought this was a good idea….. well, I won;t say it.

          • Posted by Binky the Doormat on

            This is good to know, thank you for filling us in. This is important information most of us are not getting, unfortunately.

  3. Posted by The Old Trapper on

    Diane Deans put out a statement a day after the public meeting where she said,
    “The meeting that was held last night was the first opportunity that impacted residents have had to raise their concerns regarding the development in a public forum. I firmly support and encourage public engagement in the planning process. Having said that, there were comments made at the meeting that supported racist and NIMBYist rhetoric, and I reject these remarks.”
    Please note that Councilor Deans made no objection to the racist remarks at the meeting itself, and did not even call out the person making the remarks at the time. If you are chairing a public meeting, or are participating in said meeting as an elected member of City Council it is your duty to call out racist remarks.
    I’m not saying that Councilor Deans agrees with the racist remarks, but if you raise no objections when the comments are made?

    • Posted by Please expand on this? on

      Old Trapper, can you provide some specifics on what ‘racist’ things were said? I know we have been living through a moral panic for the past few years where mere mention of the term is enough to incite a witch burning, but some of us would prefer to hear it for ourselves.

    • Posted by Were We at the Same Meeting? on

      There were no racist remarks of any type made at the meeting.

      There is nothing to answer.

      • Posted by No he was not on

        Old Trapper was almost certainly not at the meeting, he is taking this from secondary sources. Maybe Twitter?

        • Posted by I have never been to Canada on

          Sadly he most likely got it from Twitter. I don’t know a lot about this situation as I am not a Canadian but I like to keep up with news from my brothers in Greenland, Helluland and Nunavik.

        • Posted by The Old Trapper on

          I am quoting Councilor Deans’ public statement which she issued the day after the meeting. Councilor Deans is the one who stated that there were racist and NIMBYist remarks made at the meeting.

      • Posted by Meh on

        Old Trapper will put out nonsense often enough and here’s a good example. Jump on the racist train because people don’t want a megaplex in their backyard. Put it at the airport and be done.

        • Posted by Cardano on

          Throwing the word racist into a conversation is a bit like tossing a grenade or stink bomb, everyone scatters and discussion is over. It’s an effective tool when discussion is viewed through the lens of a game.

          Unfortunately it also discourages the process where what is true versus what is manipulative and disingenuous can be sorted out.

        • Posted by The Old Trapper on

          How is a quote from the chairperson of the meeting, saying that there were racist and NIMBYist remarks made at the meeting “nonsense”?
          I am merely pointing out what Councilor Deans put out as a public statement on the meeting.
          For those of you that don’t know Councilor Deans was the Chair of the Ottawa Police Services Board during the recent occupation of the downtown area by the Freedom Convoy idiots. Once she was removed from her oversight role actions were taken to quickly end that illegal occupation. And she is running as a mayoral candidate, just what we need in Ottawa. /s

  4. Posted by Spring chic on

    Different city same pushback was occurring several years ago in YUL when Nunavik sought out a location for their transit. A semi residential commercial mix land near the PET Airport was found. Still rough around the edges but manageable, a good compromise everything considered.

  5. Posted by Dave on

    I don’t believe this is nimby ism at all, this is very poor judgement by the design team. How can this area accommodate 220 people? Where are clients supposed to go when they are not inside? What am I missing, the entire property’s yard seems to be concrete.

    I do see one greenspace south, and it sure looks like private property to me. Clients won’t be welcome there, even though it is a welcoming space to smoke. I bet I know how that ends.

    To me, Larga is starting this relationship as bad neighbours and have given little thought to how this building and the clients will fit into the community. Poorly done I say and it’ll be on the Larga design team when the project is denied.

  6. Posted by Hiqaluit on

    What we as Nunavummiut are guests and not residents, as a group of people we have no say really in the out come. As a guest we need to show our best side at all times, keep their community safe. To be truly be accepted we must work the community and assure them that their concerns are welcomed and understood.
    Do we not expect the same of them when they come to our communities.

  7. Posted by Arnaq on

    The real solution is to bring Larga Baffin and all related services to Nunavut, Yep, requires housing, etc, etc., But the journey if a thousand miles starts with the first step. Start it, now.

  8. Posted by Go to Reddit on

    go to /r/ottawa and search for Larga Baffin, read the comments from users there. It’s OVERWHELMINGLY positive. People talk about their lack of “bad” interactions outside it’s current spot. And go over how it’s important to help out the people of the north. They also are not down to clown with racism.

    Stop letting the vocal minority rule the roost!

  9. Posted by Hull on

    Just put it across the river in hull they’re a lot less picky there


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