Ontario land tribunal dismisses appeal against Inuit development in Ottawa

Things appear to be back on track for the Larga Baffin development after Ontario’s land tribunal dismissed an appeal against the facility last week.

“At the end of the day the objective is to build the facility to serve the people of Baffin Island and we’re really pleased for the community that this will serve,” Michael Polowin, the lawyer who represented Larga Baffin at the land tribunal hearings, said. “It’s an essential service.”

Larga Baffin serves as a residence for Inuit from Nunavut who are in Ottawa for medical appointments.

The organization says it has outgrown its current facility in the city’s west end and has proposed building a new six-story, 220-room residence in Ottawa’s south end.

Larga Baffin
‘Everyone in the hearing knew what it was,’ says lawyer Michael Polowin who represented Larga Baffin. Photo: Fraser Needham.

But a group of local residents called the Upper Hunt Club Community Association is opposed to the new facility because of concerns over the size of the building and traffic congestion.

People who use Baffin Larga’s facilities don’t have cars – and the building is within zoning limits.

After Ottawa city council approved Larga Baffin’s proposal last year the community association took their case to the land tribunal – a provincial body that can dismiss a project even if it’s approved by a particular council.

Polowin said the appeal had no merit and there should be no confusion on what impact the facility will have on the local community.

“Everyone involved in the hearing knew what this was,” he said. “It is, in essence, a temporary housing facility for people who come to Ottawa from Baffin Island for medical treatment. It’s just like a Ronald McDonald House.”

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He added unfortunately some of the opposition to the proposed residence by local residents is based on fears of the unknown and racial stereotypes.

“There were over 300 comments submitted in writing to city staff ahead of the city’s decision. And a significant number of them made reference to unfortunate stereotypes.”

Larga Baffin must now submit a site plan application to the City of Ottawa.

APTN News reached out to lawyers representing the Upper Hunt Club Community Association but did not hear back.

Bill McCurdy, a real estate broker who works for a Toronto company called Creva Group who has been providing project management advice on Larga Baffin, told The Nunatsiaq News that if all goes according to plan construction would likely begin in late 2024.

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