The City of Ottawa's planning committee has given plans to build an air-supported dome at École secondaire catholique Garneau seven thumbs up despite opposition from the local community association and Innes Ward councillor and fellow committee member Laura Dudas.
The committee voted 7-2 in favour of the Franch catholique school board's plans to erect the dome after hearing from several local residents who will be directly impacted by the 18-metre high structure and representatives from the Chateauneuf Community Association.
Among their concerns are the visual eye sore the dome will become, the potential for excessive noise and the impact the dome will have on local traffic and surrounding property values.
Representatives from the Conseil des écoles catholiques du Centre-Est said the board has taken measures to mitigate the community's concerns by moving the planned site of the dome from directly behind the school to beside Orléans Blvd. where a football field already exists. They've also reduced the size of the structure and they plan to plant trees around the dome to make the site more attractive.
The city's planning staff told committee members the dome is appropriate, complies with zoning and should be considered “good planning.”
The board says the dome will be the centrepiece of Garneau's new sports study program which is being implemented in the coming school year to try and shore up the school's dwindling enrollment. It will also allow them to compete for sports-minded students against the Frnech public school board which has operated a sports-study program based out of its air-supported dome at École secondaire publique Louis-Riel in Blackburn Hamlet.
The board has already worked out tentative arrangements to rent out the dome to local sports organizations including the Orléans Minor Football Association, the Mavericks Volleyball Club, the Ottawa Pickle Ball Association and the Ottawa TFC soccer club after school hours.
When asked by Laura Dudas if he would support the dome if it was being constructed in his backyard, CECCE trustee answered in the affirmative even though he acknowledge local residents would be impacted by the dome.
"Yes, the immediate neighbours will be impacted. I can agree to that. I don't think there is any doubt in that. But the greater good and the over 6,000 students that are part of our board will benefit from this," said Rainboth. "It will help us recruit and grow our board."
The committee's approval is a setback proponents of an alternative plan to build an air-supported dome at Millennium Park. TMSI Sports Management had hoped to build a dome at Millennium Park in partnership with Ottawa TFC, which is already based out of the Trim Road sports facility.
TMSI president Darin McCorristan has said in the past that there is only room for one dome in Orléans. TMSI operates the dome at the Hornet's Nest in Blackburn Hamlet which is the home of the Gloucester Hornets.
The committee's vote on the site plan is final and does not have to be ratified by council, however, it can be appealed to the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal of Ontario. It is not known whether community members plan to appeal the decision or not. When asked what the potential outcome of an appeal might be, city solicitor Tim Mark opined that it would most likely fail.