The controversial addition to the Château Laurier is suddenly in a state of limbo after the city’s committee of adjustment rejected the hotel owner’s request for a minor variance.
In a written decision issued late Friday afternoon, the city’s committee of adjustment denied Larco Investments’ request for a variance that would have allowed the firm to break ground on a seven-storey, 147-room addition to the historic hotel.
In unanimously rejecting the request, the five-member committee said the variance was not minor in nature.
“The committee is of the opinion that the approval of (the) variance would allow for a new build that does not respect the landscape and character of the heritage features of the historic properties that surround the site, specifically those of the Rideau Canal, Major’s Hill Park and the Parliamentary Precinct, in contravention of the policies currently in place for compatible design and protection of views to these sites.”
The hotel owner can appeal the committee’s decision to the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal, submit a new application to the city or abandon the proposal.
On Twitter, Heritage Ottawa called the decision “an important partial victory.” The advocacy group referred questions to its lawyer, Marc Denhez, who said the committee came down squarely on the side of Heritage Ottawa.
“I was pleased. I had not expected a unanimous decision, and the decision didn’t mince words,” Denhez said.
Denhez said he expected Larco Investments would appeal the decision to the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal, which replaced the Ontario Municipal Board.
“That is what we’ve anticipated since day one: that if the hotel owners didn’t get what they wanted, that’s what they would do,” he said.
Heritage Ottawa will seek full standing at any appeal tribunal hearing, Denhez said, and will present experts to support its belief that the new addition is not compatible with the existing hotel or its surroundings.
Larco Investments did not respond to a request for comment Friday.
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