Group announces a call to halt Château Laurier addition

New group launches bid to block proposed addition to the Château Laurier.

A group of prominent Canadians has banded together in an attempt to stop the  planned addition to the Château Laurier Hotel.

Ottawa City Council will consider the design proposed by the hotel’s owner, Larco Investments on July 10. A two-thirds vote by councillors is required to overturn a recent planning committee decision approving the design. 

The addition has been the subject of much controversy since the first design was proposed a year or so ago. The current iteration is the fifth design proposed by the architects working on the project for the company.

The group, the Friends of the Château Laurier, formally started their campaign on Tuesday.

In a media release the coalition urged Canadians to help them convince politicians in Ottawa and at Queen’s Park and Larco Investments Ltd. of Vancouver, to choose a design that “is visually sympathetic to the historic hotel, which is designated under the Ontario Heritage Act and is a National Historic Site of Canada.”

The group is working with Heritage Ottawa.

The coalition says any addition “must be compatible with, and must respect and enhance, the architectural features of the Château Laurier and its nationally significant landscape within the panorama of Parliament Hill. While the noteworthy hotel is situated in Ottawa, its ‘Friends’ consider this to be a national issue of importance to all Canadians.”

The group says it supports the idea of expanding the hotel with the addition of rooms, meeting spaces and underground parking.

But any addition must be “compatible, contemporary” and “harmonious” with the existing building and the area in which it is located.

They oppose the “visually unappealing and incompatible” addition being proposed and voted upon. 

The Château Laurier is located across from the Parliament Buildings, the National Gallery of Canada, and adjacent to the famous Rideau Canal, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and Major’s Hill Park.

The Friends are asking for meeting with stakeholders including the city, the province and the federal government and the Lalji family, owners of Larco Investments Ltd.

Along with Heritage Ottawa, the founding members of the group are: Christina Cameron, Canada Research Chair on Built Heritage, Université de Montréal; Carleton University Professor Peter Coffman, former federal cabinet minister David Collenette, uOttawa Law Professor Penny Collenette, the senior public servant and former head of what is now called the Business Council of Canada Thomas d’Aquino, Shannon Day-Newman, Day-Newman and Carleton University instructor in Architectural Conservation Lyette Fortin.

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Peter Robb began his connection with the arts community in Ottawa in the mid-1980s when he was the administrator and public relations director of the Great Canadian Theatre Company. After a long career in journalism with the Ottawa Citizen where he served in a number of different posts he returned to the arts when he became the Citizen's arts editor.