Ottawa

Committee rejects Château Laurier addition detail

The planned expansion of the Château Laurier was dealt a blow Friday as the city's committee of adjustment said no to part of the controversial addition's design. 

Cantilevered section too close to Major's Hill Park, committee of adjustment rules

Larco Investments suffered a setback Friday as the city's committee of adjustment rejected part of the design for a major addition to the Château Laurier. (Larco Investments)

The planned expansion of the Château Laurier was dealt a blow Friday as the city's committee of adjustment said no to part of the controversial addition's design. 

The proposed addition's ground floor is three metres from the property line with Major's Hill Park, but a cantilevered portion of the second through seventh floors comes to within 39 centimetres of the park's border. 

While city council has approved the building's heritage application, as well as engineering and landscaping plans, developer Larco Investments needed the committee of adjustment's approval of the design.

The committee of adjustment is an arm's length panel made up of five residents, and typically deals with minor variances such as residential additions or property severances.

Design out of step with surroundings

In Friday's ruling, committee members rejected the cantilevered section, saying it was a significant variance that is not in line with the surrounding area. 

"The approval … 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," reads the ruling. 

The committee was also not convinced the design was "compatible" with the city's planning rules. 

Heritage Ottawa lawyer Marc Denhez said the decision is a victory. 

"The heritage community and the population won on the major point," he said. "The committee could not have been clearer." 

The second through seventh floors of the building protrude closer to the property line than would typically be allowed, the committee found. (City of Ottawa)

'Huge win'

Denhez said he'd quibble with some aspects of the decision, but overall he feels the group's arguments were heard.

"On the major issue that was before us, it came down squarely in favour of the position we were advocating."

Denhez said all of council's previous approvals hinged on this step. 

"The small print at the bottom of the page said this is all still conditional on getting all of your ducks lined up in a row at the committee of adjustment. It is right there in black and white on the printed page."

Coun. Mathieu Fleury, who tried to get councillors to reverse their prior approval earlier this year, called the decision a "huge win" that will stop the project from going ahead.

He said he hopes it sends a message to the developer.  

"It signals to the applicant to come back to the table, work with the community, work with Heritage Ottawa, work with the friends of Château Laurier," he said.

"We are not opposed to an addition of seven storeys. We are opposed to the materials, the shape. We really feel they are not compatible."

Planner Dennis Jacobs, who represents Larco, had no comment on the committee's decision Friday afternoon, but during the original hearing said that denying the variance would force the developer back to council.

Larco has until Oct. 17 to launch an appeal to Local Planning Appeal Tribunal.

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