IMPORTANT PARTIAL VICTORY: Committee of Adjustment Ruling Denies "Minor Variance" for Château Laurier Addition

Photo: Heritage Ottawa

Friday, September 27, 2019


In a unanimous ruling today, the Committee of Adjustment refused a "minor variance" for the Château Laurier addition.

The ruling, which follows the Committee's Hearing of September 18, is a partial yet important victory on the road to preventing the inappropriate addition to the historic hotel.

In particular, the Committee of Adjustment denied a variance that would have allowed a 16.5 metre articulated wall only 39 centimetres from the property line with Major’s Hill Park.  The ruling determined that allowing the variance “would facilitate the development of the subject property in a manner that is not minor, not desirable for the appropriate development or use of the land, nor consistent with the principles of good land use planning.”

Heritage Ottawa's lawyers, along with numerous heritage professionals and concerned citizens, appeared before the Committee to speak in opposition to the application.

In its written decision, the Committee noted appreciation for the "participation and thorough presentations made at the Hearing by all parties involved in this process, and acknowledges the numerous and detailed letters of objection filed by the residents of the City of Ottawa, other cities and towns throughout the nation and abroad, as well as several accredited authorities on matters of heritage interest and preservation".

Although the Committee of Adjustment did permit a variance to reduce a “rear yard setback” from  3 metres to  0 metres, allowing the construction of a retaining wall, its ruling on the major point could not have been clearer.

Citing the Official Plan criteria that a development proposal not cause “undue adverse impacts,” the Committee stated:

…the approval of variance (b) 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, specifically those of the Rideau Canal, Major’s Hill Park and the Parliamentary Precinct, in contravention of the policies currently in place for compatible design and protection of views to these sites.

“This is a victory for Heritage Ottawa, the Friends of the Château Laurier, and the thousands of people who continue to support our efforts to stop this incompatible addition to one of Ottawa’s most beloved landmarks,” said Heritage Ottawa president Richard Belliveau.  “We will celebrate today, but we know that an appeal is still likely and we need to be ready.”

Hotel owner Larco Investments has until October 17, 2019 to submit an appeal to the province’s Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT).  Heritage Ottawa will seek full standing at any LPAT hearing.

Heritage Ottawa has also filed a Notice of Application to Quash with the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.

Our sincere thanks to all Friends of the Château Laurier and the thousands of citizens who have supported—and continue to support—our ongoing advocacy efforts to protect the historic Château Laurier from inappropriate change.

Your voices do matter.


The Château Laurier is a National Historic Site of Canada designated under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act. The owner of the hotel proposes to construct a seven storey, rectangular addition that is incompatible with the hotel’s “Chateau-style” architecture and its picturesque setting adjacent to the Parliamentary Buildings and the Rideau Canada UNESCO World Heritage Site.