Château Laurier expansion hits snag as owner Larco seeks minor variance

Chateau laurier
Château Laurier's proposed expansion.

The controversial proposed addition to the Château Laurier was dealt a setback Friday as the city’s committee of adjustment denied approval for a minor variance, one of the final steps owner Larco Investments needed before obtaining a building permit.

Larco’s proposed seven-storey, 147-unit addition to the rear of the historic downtown hotel has been the subject of controversy for the past few years, as members of the public, professional critics and elected officials have widely panned each iterative design of the project. This past summer saw some members of council unsuccessfully attempt to revoke a heritage permit conditionally granted by city council a year earlier.

Many had thought the battle to stop the proposed extension over, as the developer only needed approval from the city’s committee of adjustment to obtain a building permit. But the committee, which saw a flood of delegates at last week’s meeting as it considered the Château addition, has refused to grant Larco the necessary minor variance to build its extension.

The committee said in its decision Friday that the proposed variance is “not minor,” adding that the final product would not result in a “desirable” development. It said that the addition would have an adverse impact on the surrounding sites – namely Major’s Hill Park, the Rideau Canal and the parliamentary precinct – and would contravene current policies that look to maintain the views of these landmarks and ensure compatible designs throughout the area.

Larco now has the option of appealing the committee of adjustment’s decision to the province’s Planning Appeal Tribunal.