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Château Laurier addition

Project Status: 

Château Laurier addition

Applicant’s proposal 

The City of Ottawa has received a revised Site Plan Control application to construct an eight-storey addition at the rear of the existing hotel. The addition would include 171 long-stay hotel units, an interior courtyard and 370 underground parking spaces.

Larco Investments Ltd. (Larco) owns the Fairmont Château Laurier property at 1 Rideau Street. Larco is proposing these changes to address the growing need for long-term stay accommodations in Ottawa and to replace the old parking garage The existing hotel has 426 hotel units, which would not be affected. 

Key views of the addition

View from Rideau Street at Mackenzie Avenue

Architectural rendering of the addition to the Chateau Laurier hotel as viewed from the southeast corner of the intersection of Rideau and Mackenzie Avenues

View from the National War Memorial

Architectural rendering of the addition to the Chateau Laurier hotel as viewed from the National War Memorial

View from Plaza Bridge

Architectural rendering of the addition to the Chateau Laurier hotel as viewed from Plaza Bridge

View from the Rideau Canal

Architectural rendering of the addition to the Chateau Laurier hotel as viewed from the Rideau Canal

View from the Parliamentary Precinct

Architectural rendering of the addition to the Chateau Laurier hotel as viewed from the Parliamentary Precinct

View from Major’s Hill Park

Architectural rendering of the addition to the Chateau Laurier hotel as viewed from the Major’s Hill Park

View from Alexandra Bridge

Architectural rendering of the addition to the Chateau Laurier hotel as viewed from the Alexandra Bridg

Proposal details

On February 1, 2018, Larco Investments submitted a revised proposal for an eight-storey, 171-room addition at the rear of the existing Château Laurier. The addition will be constructed in the location of the former parking garage. 

The revised proposal lowers the building heights of the previous additions from 12-storey and 11-storey structures to one new pavilion building of eight storeys aimed at improving views of the original hotel building from Major’s Hill Park and to appear as a separate and subordinate building. 

In the revised proposal, the ground floor has been redesigned for more publicly accessible space, and features a long gallery along the north wall, creating a visual connection between the addition and Major’s Hill Park to the north.  

The building is setback three metres from the north property line. Access to the new underground parking is from Mackenzie Avenue. Soft and hard landscaping has been added to the Mackenzie Avenue forecourt and one new internal loading space is proposed with access from the drop-off. The reconfigured internal courtyard still abuts the existing ground floor ballroom and is now open on the west (Rideau Canal) side.  

The revised proposal remains a contemporary design, and the exterior is primarily composed of glass of differing textures and opacity. The eight-storey addition would stepback above the sixth storey and the upper two floors have rounded corners. The north façade features an inset where the north-south interior corridor connects to the new gallery, dividing the north façade asymmetrically.   The building’s elevator lobby is located here.  There are also similar reveals (inset areas) on the east and west facades. 

Existing trees and pathways within Major’s Hill Park will remain unchanged. Along the Rideau Canal terraces, the existing gated staircase between the public lower terrace and private upper terrace will be removed. 

The 12,037 m2 site is located at the northwest corner of Rideau Street and Mackenzie Avenue, along the Confederation Boulevard ceremonial route. There are existing driveways accessing parking and drop-off areas from both streets. 

The following land uses surround the subject site:

  • North: Majors Hill Park, owned and maintained by the National Capital Commission
  • East: 700 Sussex, a mixed-use building, and the Byward Market consisting of a wide range of uses, including retail, restaurant and residential uses, and which is a Heritage Conservation District
  • South: the Government Conference Centre (former Union Station) and the Rideau Canal beyond
  • West: the Rideau Canal, and Parliament Hill beyond

The site is designated Central Area within the City of Ottawa Official Plan and is within the Canal Character Area of the Central Area Secondary Plan. The zoning is Mixed Use Downtown, subject to a maximum floor space index of 4.5 (MD F(4.5)). The site is also subject to the Heritage Overlay

The Château Laurier hotel was built originally between 1908 and 1912 by the Grand Trunk Railway Company in the late Victorian French Château style. A wing along Mackenzie Street was added in 1929. The parking garage structure was added in 1969, and, in 1985, Rideau Street drop-off area was enlarged and a glass front was added to Zoe’s Lounge. 

Related planning applications

A minor variance application is required where the proposal does not meet the zoning. A heritage permit is also required for an addition to a building designated under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act. A Cultural Heritage Impact Statement has been submitted with the application.

Progress to date – December 2016 to February 2018


The City received a site plan control application for an addition to the rear of the Château Laurier in December 2016. 

Planning staff requested comments from the public and interest groups from February 14 to March 15, 2017. This As We Heard It Report [PDF 475 KB] summarizes the completed feedback form submissions. City planning staff have read all of the public comments received and have updated the Frequently Asked Questions in response.  

The City also convened a group of heritage professionals to provide expert advice on the design of the addition. The Heritage Working Group met three times between February and April 2017, and offered design feedback directly to the architect and design team. Staff from the City and the National Capital Commission, and the property owner were also present at the meetings of the Heritage Working Group.

City staff and NCC staff also provided feedback on the original design and subsequent iterations throughout the spring, summer and fall of 2017. Key discussion points included:

  • Height and massing 
  • Roof expression
  • Window patterns
  • Stone or glass exterior cladding
  • Addition to appear as a standalone building beside the iconic architecture of the hotel
  • Public realm interface and how the building connects to the adjacent Rideau Canal terraces, Major’s Hill Park and Mackenzie Avenue

Interest group feedback 

The City has circulated the revised site plan control application for technical review and public comments. This includes all individuals who have requested notice through earlier consultation, the ward councillor, community associations in the area, other City departments, and technical agencies. 

Check back here again after the end of the circulation period (March 2018) to review what they had to say.

Next steps and process timeline

  1. A community information and comment session will be held on February 28, 2018.
  2. The City has requested public and technical comments on the applicant’s revised proposal by March 9, 2018.
  3. The Urban Design Review Panel will offer recommendations (target date March 1, 2018).
  4. City staff will review all public and technical comments and provide feedback to the applicant for a response.
  5. Heritage Services staff will prepare a report with recommendations (available at least five weeks before the Built Heritage Sub-Committee meeting)
  6. Built Heritage Sub-Committee report to be considered (target date May 10, 2018), rising to Planning Committee (target date May 22, 2018) and City Council (target date May 23, 2018). 
  7. Committee of Adjustment will make a decision on the minor variance, after the decision of City Council.
  8. Planning staff will issue site plan control approval.
  9. Larco will obtain a building permit and construct the addition.

The process timeline [PDF 106 KB] shows the order in which decisions on the minor variance, heritage and site plan control applications will be made. It also provides a general schedule of steps in the anticipated sequence of approvals by the City of Ottawa. 

City staff will notify individuals on the notification list of all meeting dates and decisions by email. Please email to be added to the notification list. 

Tell us what you think!

Please send the City your feedback on the revised proposal for an eight-storey rear addition to the Château Laurier hotel by March 9, 2018. You may view all of the plans, studies and renderings that the applicants have provided to the City of Ottawa as part of the site plan control application on Development Application Search.

You can participate in the consultation process in several ways:

City staff will notify individuals on the notification list of all meeting dates and decisions by email. Please email to be added to the notification list. 

Accessibility is an important consideration for the City of Ottawa. If you require special accommodation, please email or call Allison Hamlin at 613-580-2424, extension 25477.

Open house – February 28, 2018

Tuesday, February 6, 2018, 5:14 pm
Last updated: 
Tuesday, February 27, 2018, 2:14 pm

Dates & Times

Wednesday, February 28, 2018,
6:30 pm to 9:00 pm


Ottawa City Hall
110 Laurier Avenue West
Ottawa, ON K1P 1J1

Jean Pigott Place and Council Chambers
First floor

The City of Ottawa invites you to attend an open house for the Château Laurier addition. Seating in Council Chambers is limited, so please register online or by contacting the File Lead. The presentations will begin promptly at 7 p.m., so please arrive by 6:45 p.m. The presentations will be in English and the presentation materials will be in English and French. Simultaneous interpretation will be available.

If you are unable to attend the meeting, you may watch the presentations on cable 22 or from 7 to 8 p.m. Closed captioning will be available in both French and English courtesy of Rogers TV.

Time Activity
6:30 to 7 p.m. Registration and open house
7 p.m. Welcome and introductions
7:15 p.m. Applicant’s presentation
7:45 p.m. City staffs' presentation
7:55 p.m. Next steps and closing remarks
8 to 9 p.m. Open house

By attending, you will have the opportunity to learn more about the development proposal, ask the applicant’s team and City staff questions and provide feedback. Your feedback will assist City staff in writing reports for the heritage and site plan control applications. Staff expect to present the heritage report to the Built Heritage Sub-Committee and make a recommendation on the site plan this spring. 

The current development proposal is different from the plans submitted in winter 2017.The design now includes: 

  • One eight-storey building instead of two buildings of 11- and 12-storeys
  • A setback at the sixth storey
  • Glass cladding with slim metal projections
  • A long glass corridor along the north side of the building facing Major’s Hill Park
  • An open courtyard separating the historic building and the addition on the Rideau Canal side of the building
  • More publicly accessible space on the ground floor

Visit to view the plans and studies that have been submitted as part of the revised proposal.

Accessibility is an important consideration for the City of Ottawa. If you require special accommodation, please contact the File Lead by Thursday, February 21.


Allison Hamlin
613-580-2424, ext./poste 25477

Applications under City review

Site plan control 

The Planning Act is the law that allows the City to pass a site plan control by-law [PDF 184 KB]. The site plan control by-law is a legal document that sets out whether development can proceed with or without site plan approval. 

The site plan control process allows the City to influence land development so that it is safe, functional and orderly. It is also used to ensure that the development standards approved by the City and other agencies are implemented and maintained.  

To determine if a proposal qualifies for site plan approval, staff complete a comprehensive review of plans and studies submitted with the site plan control application [PDF 1.03 MB]. Technical agencies, ward councillors and the public all inform staff’s decision to approve, modify or refuse an application for site plan control. 

Building location, landscape treatment, pedestrian access, drainage control and parking layout are a few of the items addressed during review.

Public Notification and Consultation

Certain site plan proposals are subject to the City's public notification and consultation process. A large sign summarizing the proposal is placed on the property to notify the public that an application has been received. Registered community organizations enrolled with the City are also given notice when a site plan proposal is received in their neighbourhood.

Detailed information about proposals that require public notification and consultation, including a copy of the site plan is available online. Any person who wishes to provide comments to staff for consideration may do so within the designated comment period. Refer to the review status online to determine if the comment period for an application is in progress. To submit comments to staff, select the application number from the list of results. An option to send comment is located on the details page under the heading, file lead.

If there is significant interest in a proposal a community information and comment session may be held.In general, the following site plan proposals are subject to public notification and consultation.

  • New residential buildings containing five or more dwelling units
  • New buildings with a gross floor area of 350 square metres or more, other than a building containing only a Medical Marihuana Production Facility
  • Additions that expand the gross floor area of a building by more than fifty per cent, excluding a building containing only a Medical Marihuana Production Facility, a residential building containing less than five dwelling units, or a building that after the addition is less than 350 square metres in gross floor area
  • A change in use that results in the construction of more than 10 new parking spaces, or a drive-through

Key Steps in the Site Plan Control Approval Process

  • Applicant arranges a pre-application consultation meeting with City staff. Meeting is mandatory if the proposal is subject to public notification and consultation.
  • Applicant submits a complete application with studies, plans and fees to a Client Service Centre. Study, plan and fee requirements are outlined during pre-application consultation. Refer to the City's Guide to Preparing Studies and Plans for information on preparing these requirements.
  • A file lead is assigned to manage the review of the application. Details about the proposal are sent to technical agencies, public bodies and the ward councillor for consideration.
  • After the comment period ends the file lead discusses the outcomes of consultation with the applicant. Any modifications to the proposal are updated on the plans submitted to the City for approval.
  • Approval of Site Plan Control applications is delegated to City staff by Council. Councillors have the authority to withdraw this delegated authority. In these instances, the application will be placed before either the Planning Committee or the Agricultural and Rural Affairs Committee for a decision. If the applicant disagrees with the conditions of approval, they may file an appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board.
  • In accordance with the Site Plan Control By-law [PDF 184 KB], the applicant enters into an agreement or undertaking with the City. The applicant has up to six months from the date of approval to sign a Letter of Undertaking and up to one year to enter into a Site Plan Agreement.
  • As part of the Agreement the applicant provides a development cost estimate to the City so that financial securities can be calculated. Securities are held by the City to ensure that construction is completed in accordance with the approved Site Plan. The applicant provides the City with the required securities in the form of a bank issued letter of credit. The applicant also supplies a certificate of insurance to protect staff completing work on private property.
  • After construction is complete, the development is inspected by staff for compliance. Securities are released if the built project complies with the approved plans. 

Minor variance 

The Committee of Adjustment is authorized to consider applications for minor variances from a zoning by-law under Section 45 of the Planning Act.

Minor variances are often necessitated by circumstances peculiar to a property which prevent the owner from developing it in a way which conforms to a zoning by-law. Examples of minor variance applications include requests for relief from the building setback, building height, and parking provisions of a zoning by-law.

The Committee is authorized to grant a minor variance if all of the following criteria, commonly referred to as the “four tests,” are met:

  • The variance is minor
  • The variance is desirable for the appropriate development or use of the property
  • The general intent and purpose of the zoning by-law is maintained
  • The general intent and purpose of the Official Plan is maintained

The Committee will refuse an application if, in its opinion, one or more of the above criteria have not been met.

The Committee cannot grant exemptions to the by-law which, in effect, would constitute a change of zoning. In such cases, property owners may wish to make an application for a zoning by-law amendment.

Heritage application

Any addition to a designated heritage building requires the approval of the City of Ottawa under the Ontario Heritage Act. The property owner must submit an application to the Planning, Infrastructure and Economic Development Department. Once the application is deemed complete, City staff issue an acknowledgement letter to the applicant. The Ontario Heritage Act requires applications to be processed within 90 days of the issuance of this letter. 

City staff will notify the ward councillor, local community association and Heritage Ottawa of the application and ask them for formal comments. Adjacent property owners will be notified of the application by letter informing them of the dates and times of the Built Heritage Sub-Committee, Planning Committee and City Council meetings

City staff review heritage applications to ensure that they respect the heritage character of the designated heritage building.  City staff review proposals against the Statement of Cultural Heritage Value for the building and the Standards and Guidelines for the Conservation of Historic Places in Canada. They also review the Cultural Heritage Impact Statement prepared for the proposal. The Planning, Infrastructure and Economic Development Department will make a recommendation to the Built Heritage Sub-Committee, Planning Committee and City Council on the application. 

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Allison Hamlin
Planning, Infrastructure and Economic Development
City of Ottawa 
110 Laurier Avenue West
Ottawa, ON K1J 1P1
Tel.: 613-580-2424, ext. 25477