Planning committee says council should approve latest, and possibly final, Château Laurier design

Photo: Larco Investments / architectsAlliance

Friday, February 5, 2021

Ottawa Citizen, By Jon Willing

The majority of councillors on the planning committee have endorsed what one Ottawa heritage architect called a C-grade design for the Château Laurier addition.

The committee on Friday voted 7-2 in recommending that council on Feb. 24 accept the latest design and issue a heritage permit to the hotel owner, potentially putting to bed a years-long controversy over the expansion project.

Voting in favour of the design were councillors Laura Dudas, Glen Gower, Jan Harder, Allan Hubley, Catherine Kitts, Scott Moffatt and Tim Tierney. The two councillors in opposition were Riley Brockington and Jeff Leiper.

If there’s still significant public opposition, it didn’t show at the committee meeting. Only one person not directly involved in the design process or negotiations signed up to make a presentation.

Earlier in the morning, the built-heritage subcommittee voted 3-3 on the design. Coun. Rawlson King, the subcommittee chair, joined Brockington and Coun. Catherine McKenney in voting against it. Coun. Scott Moffatt joined citizen members Amanda Conforti and Barry Padolsky in supporting the design.

Padolsky, a heritage architect and subcommittee member, offered a tepid review.

Where the previous design would receive a grade of F, the current design “is not an A+, an A or even a B,” Padolsky said.

“It’s probably in the C-, C+ ranking, which means it’s a pass, but just barely.”

Peter Clewes, the lead architect for the addition, said his latest design is “a consensus of opinion on the part of a lot of people” and that the concept is better because of the feedback process.

Larco has been trying to get an approved design for an addition since 2016.

A planning appeal by Larco and Heritage Ottawa ultimately led to the design that council will consider [when it meets on February 24]. The two sides negotiated a concept and arrived at a settlement last year.

The National Capital Commission needs to approve Larco’s proposal when it comes to the impact of the hotel addition to surrounding federal lands.

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