Ottawa gives initial go-ahead to Chateau Laurier additions but that could change
Jeremiah Rodriguez, CTVNews.ca Staff, with a report from Newstalk 580 CFRA's Ted Raymond
Published Wednesday, July 10, 2019 10:16AM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, July 10, 2019 4:30PM EDT
Ottawa city council voted Wednesday, to give the initial go-ahead to proposed additions to the iconic Hotel Chateau Laurier, despite critics arguing it would ruin the capital’s picturesque skyline.
But in a last-minute decision, councillors were able to vote to reconvene Thursday for reconsideration of the matter.
The historic hotel is a designated heritage building under Ontario’s Heritage Act. Last year, Larco Investments, which owns the Chateau, was granted a conditional heritage permit to build upon the site.
Five proposed designs had been presented to the city, but all of them were met with strong public opposition.
Ottawa Coun. Mathieu Fleury put forth the motion for the city to repeal the building permit altogether.
Larco Investments wants to build a seven-storey, 147-room contemporary glass addition to the north side of the heritage-protected hotel. Critics are concerned the design will disrupt the picturesque Ottawa landscape.
Architect and vocal critic of the plan Barry Padolsky told CTV’s Your Morning the addition doesn’t fit in.
“We see (Canada's Parliamentary Precinct façade) as the crown of Ottawa, and the Chateau is part of this landscape,” he said. Padolsky told CTV Ottawa the addition “is not compatible and fights with the Chateau Laurier.”
Had council voted to repeal the permit, the decision would have cost city taxpayers upwards of $200,000 in legal fees, the city’s top lawyer told CTV Ottawa.
In a letter to the mayor and city councillors, lead architect Peter Clewes wrote, “while the public debate has been passionate, it is important to understand that there is a process of engagement and review that has been followed.”
Larco Investments’ building application dates back to 2016, but has been since been mired by delays and criticism. Last month, preservation society Heritage Ottawa blasted the redesign as “heritage vandalism.”
"Heritage Ottawa remains unimpressed -- and is gravely concerned that the City of Ottawa may be on track to approve what would be the most disgraceful act of heritage vandalism of our generation," the organization said in a statement in June.
The group’s president Richard Belliveau told CTV News Channel there is “real opposition” to the most recent design. He said a modern design would “be delightful” but the addition has to be “compatible and should fit in with the historic building.”
“It’s basically a huge box at the back of the building,” he lamented.
They and other critics argued the addition’s design concept isn’t appropriate for such a landmark building.
Clewes told The Canadian Press in June "we certainly don't want to demean the hotel in any way." He added, “we're trying to do a building of our time, and we don't want to confuse the cultural history of Ottawa.”
Padolsky disagrees with Clewes’ assessment and said, if the plans for the addition move forward, “the next step will be to appeal to the Government of Canada.”
#CORRECTION the reconsideration vote will be held tomorrow. So there will still be debate over the original motion.— Kevin Gallagher (@KGallagherCTV) July 10, 2019