Why is Larco changing the hotel?
The addition is being proposed to address the growing need for long-term stay accommodations in Ottawa and to replace the old parking garage.
For a more detailed explanation, please visit Larco’s project website.
What planning approvals are required?
The applicant must submit applications to the City of Ottawa for site plan control, minor variance and a heritage permit application.
Who will approve the applications?
The Manager of the Development Review Central Branch will approve the site plan control application through delegated authority unless the ward councillor requests to withdraw this authority. If delegated authority is withdrawn, City staff will make recommendations to Planning Committee, which will make the final decision.
The Committee of Adjustment will make the final decision on the minor variance application.
City Council will make the final decision on the heritage application and only the property owner can appeal Council’s decision. City staff will make recommendations to the Built Heritage Sub-Committee, which would then be considered by Planning Committee and City Council. If the application is approved, City Council will issue a heritage permit to allow construction to proceed.
Can the application decisions be appealed?
A resident has the right to appeal the Committee of Adjustment’s decision on the minor variance application. Appeals must be filed within 20 days of the date of the Committee’s written decision and include the reasons for the appeal and the fee. Only the property owner can appeal the Manager’s decision on the site plan control application or Council’s decision on the heritage application. The Ontario Municipal Board hears appeals against development applications while the Conservation Review Board hears appeals against heritage applications.
How will my comments on the proposal be considered?
City staff will consider public comments when reviewing the site plan control, minor variance and heritage applications. Comments relevant to each application will be summarized in the corresponding staff report before a decision is made.
Public feedback on the site plan control application has been summarized in an As We Heard It Report [PDF 475 KB]. City staff have read all of the public feedback and will provide a summary of public comments and suggestions to the developer’s team of consultants, which includes the lead architect. The developer’s team will decide how they use the information.
Planning staff expect some refinement of the proposal based on feedback from residents and the Heritage Working Group.
Residents will also have opportunities to submit comments directly to Built Heritage Sub-Committee, Planning Committee and the Committee of Adjustment. The process timeline [PDF 76 KB] illustrates the meetings that residents can attend and in which they can participate.
Does my feedback really matter?
Yes. Public consultation is a key aspect of the planning process. City planners analyze all relevant policies and the responses from the public and technical agencies when reviewing development proposals. Their recommendations to elected officials or delegated authorities represent their professional planning opinion, which is based on this careful review and analysis.
Why did the City use software to analyze the feedback form responses?
The City used text analysis software called KH Coder to analyze and summarize the 1759 public responses. City staff read all of the comments and selected examples that illustrated the patterns that emerged from the analysis. The National Capital Commission used KH Coder to analyze public feedback on the Ottawa Hospital site review and the redevelopment of LeBreton Flats last year.
To learn more, please read the As We Heard It Report [PDF 475 KB].
What is the Official Plan context for the property?
The property is designated Central Area in the Official Plan. It is also within the Canal Character Area of the Central Area Secondary Plan.
In the Canal Character Area:
- The focus is on leisure, cultural, institutional, judicial and government uses within a unique historical open space environment
- Development is to be predominantly low to medium profile and respectful of the heritage character of the area
- Significant views are to be protected, particularly of the Parliament Buildings
- Vehicular impacts on the pedestrian-oriented character of the area are to be minimized
The Central Area Secondary Plan does not contain policies specific to the Château Laurier property.
Several Scenic Entry Routes surround the property. The Official Plan identifies both Wellington/Rideau Street and Mackenzie Avenue and part of Confederation Boulevard as distinctive streets [PDF 1.67 MB].
What zoning regulations apply to the property?
The Château Laurier property is zoned Mixed-Use Downtown and is within the Heritage Overlay. The maximum floor space index is 4.5.
Is there a height limit?
The Heritage Overlay requires the height of the addition’s walls and roof not to exceed those of the heritage building.
What are the required setbacks?
There are no required setbacks in the Mixed-Use Downtown zone. The Heritage Overlay provisions require an addition to a heritage building to be set in at least 60 centimetres more than the existing side wall.
Why does the proposal not meet the zoning and require a minor variance?
A minor variance is required to exempt the proposal from a provision of the Heritage Overlay, which states that, where a building subject to the heritage overlay is removed or destroyed, it must be rebuilt with the same character, scale, massing, volume and floor area, and in the same location as existed prior to its removal or destruction. Larco’s proposal is to remove the parking garage and replace it with an addition that is different from what existed.
What is the heritage status of the hotel?
The City of Ottawa designated the Château Laurier under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act in 1978 for its architectural and historical value. The designation by-law includes the following reasons for designation:
The Château Laurier at Rideau Street and Mackenzie Avenue, is recommended for designation as being of historical and architectural value. Erected 1908-1912 by the Grand Trunk Railway Company, and subsequently enlarged in keeping with the original architectural style, the hotel was built in the late Victorian French Chateau style, as designed by Montreal architects Ross and MacFarlane. This was in contrast to the initial Gothic Revival proposal. The romantic attractiveness of the Chateau Style became incorporated in a series of hotels across Canada. Sir Wilfred Laurier was the first to sign the register. From 1930-35 R.B. Bennett resided here. Over the years, the Chateau has served as a second home for many M.P.s and Senators, providing a dignified, hospitable and lively Ottawa residence.
In addition to the designation under the Ontario Heritage Act, the Historic Properties and Monuments Board of Canada has designated the Château Laurier as a National Historic Property. This designation is commemorative only and does not carry any restrictions.
How do Heritage Planners evaluate an addition to a designated heritage building?
Heritage planners use a variety of tools and international standards to evaluate additions to designated heritage buildings. These include Parks Canada’s Standards and Guidelines for the Conservation of Historic Places in Canada adopted by City Council in 2008. Standards 10, 11 and 12 specifically address rehabilitation projects. Standard 11 stresses that the heritage value and character-defining elements of a building should be conserved when an addition is constructed and that it be physically and visually compatible with, subordinate to and distinguishable from the historic place. Section 4.3.1 of the Guidelines for Buildings provides further direction on additions.
Why is there a heritage working group?
Sometimes, City staff will ask external heritage professionals for advice in assessing more high profile or complex development applications. Experience has shown that the input of independent experts often results in a better outcome. The City has invited professionals with backgrounds in heritage conservation, architecture and landscape architecture to be part of a heritage working group for the Château Laurier proposal, which will provide advice and offer solutions to the owner’s design team.
Who are the members of the heritage working group?
The working group includes five highly respected members of the heritage community:
Robert Allsopp, OALA, RPP, MCIP
Canadian Association of Heritage Professionals, architectural historian, former president of Heritage Ottawa
Robert Martin, OAA, MRAIC, CAHP, LEED AP
Principal, Robertson Martin Architects
Michael McClelland, OAA, CAHP, FRAIC
Principal, ERA Architects
John Zvonar, OALA
Is the applicant likely to revise the addition to look like the existing building?
The applicant is likely to revise the addition, but the revised addition is unlikely to replicate the architectural style of the existing building.
If the addition were built to look like the existing building then it would be difficult to distinguish the new part from the historic part of the building, which would take the focus away from the historic visual qualities of the designated building. The architectural goal of this project is to build a new addition to an existing heritage building in such a way that the designated building continues to be the defining feature of the property.
Heritage Ottawa explains this further by saying,
So how, many wonder, can such an overtly modern addition to this heritage-designated icon even be contemplated? The Standards and Guidelines for the Conservation of Historic Places in Canada states: "Conserve the heritage value and character-defining elements when creating any new additions to an historic place or any related new construction. Make the new work physically and visually compatible with, subordinate to and distinguishable from the historic place."
The "glass lantern" on the Victoria Memorial Building at the Canadian Museum of Nature is one example of this standard successfully applied.
The credo that new additions to heritage structures should be recognized as products "of their own time" is intended, in part, to prevent an undesirable theme-park effect of mimicry or "faux historicism" where new construction might be confused with original historic fabric. Modern additions to heritage buildings can certainly be successful - but achieving visual harmony and a successful balance of contrasts between old and new is a complex, case-specific undertaking for which no recipe exists.
A compatible addition to the Château Laurier must respond sensitively to the heritage character of the original building and its exceptional site.