Updated to clarify nature of the vote at the sub-committee meeting. The Built Heritage Sub-Committee passed a motion recommending that the Planning Committee reject this new site plan when they meet on June 13th.
The June 3rd meeting of the City of Ottawa’s Built Heritage Sub-Committee was overflowing with comments on the topic of discussion – the Château Laurier Hotel‘s addition site plan. The problem, the public just do not like the new re-design and it strongly appears their dislike is falling on deaf ears. There were comments at the sub-committee from ‘it looks like a heating plant’ to it is ‘fundamentally unsympathetic’ to the hotel.
The Château Laurier was named as a National Historic Site in 1980. The building has a rich history that began in 1908 when construction started. This was to be a grand hotel owned by the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway Company (GTPRC) and that is exactly what it is — grand. The Château was one of the first hotels built as a persuasion for tourists to travel the GTPRC trans-continental railway.
Stittsville’s Councillor, Glen Gower, is the Chair of the Built Heritage Sub-Committee and the only Councillor who voted in favour of the new design for the Château Laurier.
In an article he wrote today, Councillor Gower has explained his reasoning for his vote. Here are excerpts from the article.
The Château Laurier Problem — The latest version of the proposed addition to the Château Laurier is better – much better – than where it started, but it’s still not inspiring us or enchanting us.
The problem is that there’s nothing in our municipal planning toolbox to require a builder to inspire or enchant us with their architecture … And that’s a very big problem as we get set to review the Château Laurier addition site plan at Planning Committee on June 13.
As a member of the Planning Committee, part of my role is to mediate the expectations of residents with the rights of private property owners. I have to park my personal opinion and look for balance within a complicated framework of provincial and municipal laws, policies and processes.
The feedback on this application has been incredible …
Next week’s decision at Planning Committee will likely come down to whether or not Larco has met the direction issued by City Council in 2018 …. Council approved the height and the shape of the building; the only thing in question was the details.
Objectively, I believe Council’s direction has been met, but it was a very low bar to pass.
So we’re left with an impossible decision. Approve the site plan, and we’ll end up with the proposal we see before us now. Reject it, and Larco would almost certainly appeal to a provincial tribunal, …
… Since 2016, the Château Laurier addition has claimed more attention and resources by city staff, consultants, councillors and committees than any other planning application. … But after more than 800 days, this is where they’ve ended up.
The power to change at this point lies with Larco, not with Council. As owners of the Château Laurier, they hold the ultimate responsibility for the design, and should be ready to bear the wrath of public opinion if they continue down this path.
To read the full article by Counciller Gower, visit his web site at: https://www.glengower.ca/notebook/councillors-notebook-the-chateau-laurier-problem/.
When contacted by Stittsville Central to see how Councillor Gower has followed-up after the meeting, he stated, “I met again today with the Mayor and staff from the city’s planning and legal staff to continue working on possible solutions…”
We’ll be following the Planning Committee meeting on June 13th for the discussion and end decision that goes to City Council for a vote.