Larga Baffin ready to take more time on plan for new medical boarding facility

The proposed facility at Upper Hunt Club would be a new temporary southern home for Inuit receiving local medical services and a major upgrade from Larga’s current 195-capacity facility on Richmond Road.

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Larga Baffin has agreed to hit pause, temporarily, on its application to develop a new boarding facility in Upper Hunt Club for residents of Nunavut who come south for medical care after concerns were raised about the project.

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Last year, some neighbors started a petition in protest of the corporation’s plan to build a six-storey residence for up to 350 people on land near Hunt Club and Albion roads. They cited concerns about increased traffic, noise and pollution, plus worries about community safety.

The proposed facility would be a new temporary southern home for Inuit receiving local medical services and a major upgrade from Larga’s current facility. Located on Richmond Road, it accommodates 195 people and still can not keep up with demand, company president Malaya Zehr said in December.

Following the news last week that a Jan. 26 public meeting on the project had been canceled, Zehr said via email that Larga Baffin was taking time “to develop a proper communication strategy around the expansion and to provide facts.”

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Requests for additional comment were passed on to Bill McCurdy, principal at Creva Group Ltd., a Toronto firm providing project management support to Larga Baffin on the development. McCurdy said they were informed by the City of Ottawa last week “that it received comments from a number of sources regarding our application,” and they had agreed to request a break to give the city time to pull together and pass along the comments “so we can respond appropriately. ”

He declined to comment further at this time.

Larga is applying for an official plan and zoning bylaw amendment, on which Ontario’s Planning Act sets out timelines for municipal decisions.

A Monday letter sent by their lawyer to the city said Larga was prepared to pause these applications on a temporary basis pending “r eceipt and consideration ”of comments from the community, others given the opportunity to weigh in during the planning process and “c omments from the community and social services department (which we understand to exist). ”

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The comments were requested by Jan. 28.

On Friday, Gloucester-Southgate Coun. Diane Deans said she’d heard from the social services department that “They believe there’s a need for more wraparound supports to assist the people that are critically ill and here for medically necessary procedures.”

In a notice on her website, ahead of the planned public meeting, Deans wrote she had heard from “many residents already and understand that there are significant issues with this proposal including traffic, density, and height concerns, as well as lack of green space . ”

For example, Deans said, there’s currently a single park serving the community’s 450 homes.

“I do not believe this is about NIMBYism,” she said, when asked about this characterization of objections to the project.

“It’s about the model and it’s about getting the model right. And I believe, as long as we do that, that Larga Baffin will be welcomed into the community and will work well and (there) will be a culturally beneficial relationship between the host community and the residents of Nunavut who are visiting Ottawa for critical health care. ”

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