An overwhelming number of the City of Ottawa’s official heritage protectors say council’s planning committee should reject the latest design of a proposed addition to the historic Château Laurier.
The 7-1 vote by the built-heritage subcommittee on Monday was crafted as a message to the planning committee. The nine-member panel, which includes heritage and architecture experts from the community, opposes the look of the proposed seven-storey expansion to the landmark hotel on Rideau Street.
Coun. Glen Gower, chair of the subcommittee, who was elected to city council last October, said council in June 2018 gave the subcommittee and planning committee a “poison gift” when it granted conditional approval to alter the heritage property as long as Larco added more limestone to the addition, used more elements from the heritage hotel and broke up the north facade.
“The bar that they set with those recommendations, with those conditions, was so low and I don’t know if committee members or council members knew that,” Gower said before recording the only vote against the refusal recommendation.
“I’m not necessarily happy with the building (design) we’re ending up at,” Gower said. “I do not want the public to have false expectations about what planning committee next week can or can’t do.”
The subcommittee’s vote is merely a suggestion to the planning committee, which will make a decision on Larco’s site plan application and the design conditions on June 13. The subcommittee has no jurisdiction on site plan matters.
The public reaction to the design of the proposed addition has been largely negative.
David Flemming of Heritage Ottawa said he hasn’t seen this level of public engagement on a heritage matter in nearly 50 years.
“The fact that the public have reacted, the fact that you’re getting hundreds of people who have made comments on this, is really important,” Flemming said. “I think it’s heartening people are speaking out.”
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