Heritage Ottawa hires lawyers to fight Château Laurier addition

Rendering: Larco Investments

Wednesday, July 31, 2019


Ottawa heritage advocates have hired a legal team as they try to stop what they call an "inappropriate" addition to the Château Laurier hotel.

The addition at the rear of the national historic site was conditionally approved last year by the previous city council, with an attempt to overturn it failing earlier this month.

Multiple fronts

Heritage Ottawa, a volunteer group that works to preserve historic buildings, said in a news release Tuesday it has hired lawyers Michael Polowin and Marc Denhez, and is raising money for legal costs.

Denhez said there a couple of legal avenues they can take to prevent the expansion as is.

He said the hotel's owners still need a final sign off from the committee of adjustment, which is a city committee that is kept arm's length from council. He said the decision there could be appealed to the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal, which is a provincial body.

Denhez said a broader court challenge is also likely.

"The question of a court proceeding is essentially inevitable, regardless of what happens in the other forum," he said on CBC's All In A Day.

He said in court they can examine whether the city's processes were properly followed and whether the plan complies with provincial legislation on heritage properties.

He declined to speak in much detail about their strategy or legal precedents, saying they didn't want to show their hand before they file a case.

Denhez said it's not unusual in Ontario for planning issues to end up in court. He said the landmark hotel is too important to go down without a fight.

"It is not the sort of thing we should jettison in a hurry. There has to be sober second thought."

A consultant for Hotel owner Larco Investments said it would like to start construction this year on what ended up being its fifth publicly-released design.

First, it needs the National Capital Commission's approval for landscaping and lighting where the addition meets Major's Hill Park.

CLICK HERE  to hear Heritage Ottawa's co-counsel Marc Denhez on CBC All in a Day.

For more information including how you can donate, CLICK HERE to visit our Save The Château Laurier page.