More design work on Château Laurier expansion endorsed by planning committee

Rendering: architectsAlliance

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

OTTAWA CITIZEN, By Jon Willing

There wasn’t much fuss over the proposed Château Laurier expansion during Tuesday’s planning committee meeting.

Councillors simply approved a recommendation from the built-heritage subcommittee to send the hotel owner, Larco Investments, back to the drawing board and create a fifth version of the addition, which is currently on paper as a glassy seven-storey building connected to the north side of the hotel.

The political drama over the addition to the historic hotel has been defused in the short term. Councillors are buying more time to come up with a design that won’t cause public outcry.

No councillor on the planning committee even had a question for Larco’s design team.

Under the recommended approach, planning general manager Stephen Willis would have the final approval for the design — not council.

Instead of making a decision on the latest concept, the built-heritage subcommittee voted last week to ask city staff to work with Larco on including more Château-like features in the addition, including using more limestone. The subcommittee also called for a less-imposing north wall of the addition fronting Major’s Hill Park.

The planning committee meeting was the last chance for the public to provide feedback on the latest design. Only four people signed up [to speak] and three of them were the same people who spoke during the built-heritage subcommittee meeting.

David Jeanes, president of Heritage Ottawa, said the ultimate decision for the design should be up to council, not city staff.

It was city staff, of course, who signed off on the latest controversial design and determined it meets the heritage standards and guidelines.

The planning committee agreed with another built-heritage subcommittee recommendation to make sure a site plan application for the project is presented to the planning committee. That way, the committee could ensure the final design meets the heritage standards and guidelines.

Council on Wednesday will be asked to ratify the planning committee’s decision.