Heritage Ottawa hires lawyers to fight Château Laurier addition

Ottawa heritage advocates have hired lawyers as they try to stop what they call an "inappropriate" addition to the Château Laurier hotel.

Volunteer group also raising money for legal costs

A mock-up of the council-approved addition to the Château Laurier. (NCC)

Ottawa heritage advocates have hired a legal team as they try to stop what they call an "inappropriate" addition to the Château Laurier hotel.

The addition at the rear of the national historic site was conditionally approved last year by the previous city council, with an attempt to overturn it failing earlier this month.

Multiple fronts

Heritage Ottawa, a volunteer group that works to preserve historic buildings, said in a news release Tuesday it has hired lawyers Michael Polowin and Marc Denhez, and is raising money for legal costs.

Denhez said there a couple of legal avenues they can take to prevent the expansion as is.

Marc Denhez is one of two lawyers aiming to get the Château Laurier decision reversed. (Ryan Tumilty/CBC)

He said the hotel's owners still need a final sign off from the committee of adjustment, which is a city committee that is kept arm's length from council. He said the decision there could be appealed to the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal, which is a provincial body.

Denhez said a broader court challenge is also likely. 

"The question of a court proceeding is essentially inevitable, regardless of what happens in the other forum," he said on CBC's All In A Day.  

A local heritage group has hired a legal team to help it challenge the controversial Chateau Laurier addition. We ask one of the lawyers how they plan to do it. 8:12

He said in court they can examine whether the city's processes were properly followed and whether the plan complies with provincial legislation on heritage properties. 

He declined to speak in much detail about their strategy or legal precedents, saying they didn't want to show their hand before they file a case. 

Denhez said it's not unusual in Ontario for planning issues to end up in court. He said the landmark hotel is too important to go down without a fight. 

"It is not the sort of thing we should jettison in a hurry. There has to be sober second thought."

A consultant for Hotel owner Larco Investments said it would like to start construction this year on what ended up being its fifth publicly-released design.

First, it needs the National Capital Commission's approval for landscaping and lighting where the addition meets Major's Hill Park.


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