Nursing home expansion promotes discussion among council

By Karen Fallon

Seeking a deferral on the site plan agreement and approval for the expansion of Richmond Terrace Long-Term Care Facility, 89 Rankin Street, councillor Diane Pouget, noted the delay would provide neighbours an opportunity to speak to the matter.

“We want to ensure, as new councillors, that this is done right,” said Pouget, at the June 13 meeting. “By postponing it for two weeks it just gives us a chance to review it…and see if something else can be done for the residents.”

However, Lory Bratt, Planning Coordinator for the town informed council that the project has been through all the appropriate planning approval processes along with the Ontario Municipal Board.

“I think what we have to understand here is this has gone through the process,” said Mayor Wayne Hurst. “The public had their opportunity under the previous council.”

“We had our solicitors along with our planners at the OMB hearing and the hearing approved this,” says Hurst, who noted that to delay the project could possibly involve litigation.

“The board dismissed the appeal and found that the proposal was in-keeping with the intent of Official Plan and Zoning By-law and was appropriate development for the area,” said Bratt.

According to Bratt’s report: “The purpose of the additions is to re-design the nursing home from one congregate institutional residence of 115 beds into four rest home areas (pods) each containing 32 beds for an overall total of 128 beds. The nursing home has been in the community since 1961.

The intent is to create smaller, homelike areas, rather than large institutional living environments with each area containing bedrooms, activity areas, dining rooms, lounges and outdoor space. The extension to the building will have a brick finish matching the existing structure.

Councillor Carolyn Davies says she deems the block style extension onto Rankin, which will “over shadow” existing homes, as “ugly” and not in keeping with the “existing residential fabric.”

Rankin has been ranked as one of the prettiest little street in Ontario on the town’s own website, noted Davies.

“This proposed streetscape on the Rankin side would not only block a portion of that street from the gateway on Sandwich Street, but its institutional block design would contradict it,” said Davies, who added that there should be a “moral obligation” on the part of the builder to soften the look of the building.

“It’s just not right,” she said.

“I guess ugly is a matter of opinion,” said Bratt, who noted that a “lot of thought process” went into the design…all of this is not ugly; that is an insult to the proponent and to administration.

“We are very fortunate to have this development for the residents of our town,” said Bratt.

Councillor John Sutton says it would be misleading to the neighbours to have them to believe “that there still may be an eleventh hour reprieve from the project.”

We don’t have any legal authority that I know of to delay the OMB order, he added.

“We don’t have legislative authority to say what it must look like,” he continued.   “We have to be realistic as what we can do under specific statutes and by-laws and we have to listen to the expertise of our staff who are telling us that it meets every requirement of our Official Plan.”

Under a recorded vote those in favor of a deferral were: councillors Davies, Bart DiPasqualie, Pouget. The motion was lost.

The motion to approve the site plan agreement, under a recorded vote was supported by all except Pouget.

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