Committee of Adjustment rejects "Minor Variance" for Château Laurier addition

Rendering: Larco Investments

Friday, September 27, 2019



The planned expansion of the Château Laurier was dealt a blow Friday as the city's committee of adjustment said no to part of the controversial addition's design.

The proposed addition's ground floor is three metres from the property line with Major's Hill Park, but a cantilevered portion of the second through seventh floors comes to within 39 centimetres of the park's border.

While city council has approved the building's heritage application, as well as engineering and landscaping plans, developer Larco Investments needed the committee of adjustment's approval of the design.

The committee of adjustment is an arm's length panel made up of five residents, and typically deals with minor variances such as residential additions or property severances.

Design out of step with surroundings

In Friday's ruling, committee members rejected the cantilevered section, saying it was a significant variance that is not in line with the surrounding area.

"The approval … 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," reads the ruling.

The committee was also not convinced the design was "compatible" with the city's planning rules.

Heritage Ottawa lawyer Marc Denhez said the decision is a victory.

"The heritage community and the population won on the major point," he said. "The committee could not have been clearer."

Denhez said there he'd quibble with some aspects of the decision, but overall he feels the group's arguments were heard.

"On the major issue that was before us, it came down squarely in favour of the position we were advocating."

Denhez said all of council's previous approvals hinged on this step.

"The small print at the bottom of the page said this is all still conditional on getting all of your ducks lined up in a row at the committee of adjustment. It is right there in black and white on the printed page."

Planner Dennis Jacobs, who represents Larco, had no comment on the committee's decision Friday afternoon, but during the original hearing said that denying the variance would force the developer back to council.

Larco has until Oct. 17 to launch an appeal to Local Planning Appeal Tribunal.