Council OKs controversial Chateau Laurier addition

Revised Chateau Laurier design

At long last, the much-debated addition to the Chateau Laurier hotel has been given the green light at City Hall.

Council voted 14-10 Wednesday to approve the design and issue a heritage permit for the proposed addition at the back of the iconic downtown lodging. 

The councillors who opposed the proposal were Riley Brockington, Rick Chiarelli, Diane Deans, Mathieu Fleury, Theresa Kavanagh, Rawlson King, Jeff Leiper, Catherine McKenney, Carol Anne Meehan and Shawn Menard.

“I voted NO because heritage matters and we can do better,” McKenney tweeted.

Mayor Jim Watson supported the updated concept, saying recently the plan meets “council’s key conditions for improvement.”

The proposal calls for an 11-storey and a 10-storey tower clad in Indiana limestone, which will extend the wings of the hotel toward Major’s Hill Park. A two-storey base will join the two towers, which will have a total of 159 suites.

Larco first publicly shared its controversial expansion plans – which include extended-stay suites – in 2016. Planners representing the real estate firm have said the extension is necessary for the hotel to stay competitive in Ottawa’s hospitality market.

But controversy has dogged the project almost from the start, forcing the company’s architects to go back to the drawing board to appease critics who said previous designs weren’t compatible with the historic hotel and would obstruct views of the main building from Major’s Hill Park. 

Larco’s previous plan for a seven-storey, 147-unit addition was approved by the city’s planning committee in 2019, only to have the city’s committee of adjustment deny it approval for a minor variance – one of the final steps needed before obtaining a building permit.

The plan doesn’t quite have the all-clear yet. The National Capital Commission still needs to approve the plan because it affects nearby federal property.