Orléans sports dome improvements 'lipstick on a pig,' councillor says

Innes Ward Coun. Laura Dudas says a plan to build an inflatable sports dome at an Orléans high school should not go ahead, despite a new report from city staff giving the project the green light.

Despite some opposition, school board says proposed project has community support

Innes Coun. and deputy Ottawa mayor Laura Dudas at City Hall Nov. 13, 2019. (Jean Delisle/CBC)

An Ottawa city councillor says the plan to build an inflatable sports dome at an Orléans high school should not go ahead, despite a new report from city staff giving the project the green light.

The French Catholic school board, Conseil des écoles catholiques du Centre-Est (CECCE), is aiming to build the all-season sports dome at École secondaire catholique Garneau, which was first proposed back in May 2019.

Some residents and the local community association have cried foul over the project, arguing that such a large dome shouldn't be built so close to residential buildings.

Coun. Laura Dudas, who represents Innes ward where the school is located, is echoing residents' concerns, arguing that the dome shouldn't be built so close to people's homes.

The proposed site, currently occupied by a track and field, sits next to the school on the corner Carrière Street and Orléans Boulevard. (Google Maps)

In her comments in the staff report, Dudas called the dome "an amorphous blob."

"To have a dome of this size placed down within an established existing community, it doesn't fit," she told CBC. "It is literally in people's back yards."

The dome would be about 18 metres high, slightly lower than the 23 metres that was initially proposed.

Despite some critical feedback from residents, a new report from city staff recommends the project go ahead, saying efforts are being made to address concerns that the dome will be an eyesore in the largely residential community.

"The overall site design includes substantial tree planting around the perimeter of the sports field to frame the site and reduce the visibility of the dome," the report reads.

'Lipstick on a pig'

But Dudas said the trees won't be sufficient to hide the dome and called the effort "putting lipstick on a pig."

"No matter how tall the tree is that we could put in front of it, how many berms are in place, it will not be able to hide from the adjacent residences," she said.

The school board's director of education Marc Bertrand said the project has its supporters as well. According to Bertrand, 1,200 people signed on to support the project.

The report will be presented to the city's planning committee next week for approval. Bertrand said he is hoping the councillors will consider the benefit the dome could bring to the community.

"I'm hoping city council will consider this as a whole with respect to the needs and wishes of the community because there is some opposition but there is also overwhelming support for the project," Bertrand said.

Dudas, who sits on the committee, is calling on her fellow councillors to reject the plan.

"Just because the project is allowed to go ahead doesn't mean it's the right thing to do, and I'm hoping that my colleagues see that as well."

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