ICOMOS CANADA to Committee of Adjustment: Reject the Château Laurier Request for Minor Variance

Rendering: Larco Investments

Monday, September 16, 2019


The following letter was sent by ICOMOS CANADA to the Committee of Adjustment on September 16, 2019.


Dear members of the committee,

RE: Chateau Laurier addition minor variance request

I am writing to you as President of the Canadian committee of the International Council on Monuments and on Sites (ICOMOS Canada) to express the view that the request for a minor zoning variance to allow for an addition to the Chateau Laurier is of concern to us.

ICOMOS Canada has followed the debate surrounding the proposed addition and has taken note of the decision made by the City of Ottawa on July 11, 2019 to allow it. However, we wish to express our concern that approving a minor variance on this site raises questions about the commitment to protect the Rideau Canal World Heritage Site.

At the time of the World Heritage inscription in 2007, the various authorities responsible for the canal and its surroundings, which include the City of Ottawa, the Province of Ontario, the National Capital Commission and Parks Canada, indicated that they would cooperate to ensure the integrity and authenticity of the site’s outstanding universal value. This is to be understood as applying their respective authority to the protection and management of the property in a coordinated manner.

The decision by the City of Ottawa did not demonstrate that allowing the addition as it is being proposed does not have an impact on the World Heritage site and its setting. Furthermore, the review of the proposed addition did not demonstrate that municipal, provincial, and federal legal authorities to protect heritage have the weight that the nomination proposal to UNESCO suggested they had nor that the various authorities could work cooperatively in a coordinated manner to protect the site.

We would like to express our concern that allowing a minor variance is in effect changing the terms of management of the World Heritage site and supporting council’s decision without due consideration for the impact on the outstanding universal value of the Rideau Canal. The consequence of an impact can be significant enough to warrant further investigation by ICOMOS and the UNESCO World Heritage Committee and a review of the site’s status.

We urge the Committee of Adjustments to reject the request until it is demonstrated that there is no impact on the outstanding universal value of the Rideau Canal World Heritage Site.


Christophe Rivet PhD

c.c. International Secretariat ICOMOS


View the letter HERE.