Original Article Date: February 24, 2021
The Fairmount Chateau Laurier received final approval from council after divisive battle over the design of the extension. The division to the project played in city council and in the community for 4 years (Ottawa City Council).
Councillor Rawlson King called the design “middling, average and ordinary”.
“It represents good enough,” said King, mentioning that some of council’s concerns about the edition had been addressed. King was happy to see the extension reduced to retain the view of the Chateau Laurier. “Design the works to minimize the visual impacts of the new addition,” said King.
Council was as divided over the design; some councillors worried about how the new modern design of the addition would contrast with the historical nature of the city. Councillor Mathieu Fleury believed the addition did not reflect the historical nature or importance of the building to the nation’s capital. “We want to have a capital that is celebrated and recognizes the history. We want to be recognized for our architecture and protection of our heritage,” Fleury said in French.
Other councillors focused on the economic benefit that the project would bring to the city during the COVID-19 pandemic. Councillor Glen Gower, who represents the rural ward in Stittsville supported the project for economic reasons. “A new hotel and event centre for our city in a time when we’re about to start coming out of the COVID-19 and the economic recovery and the tourism and hospitality has been one of the hardest hit,” said Gower, “This project represents three years of construction activity, major construction by this city”. He added.
Mayor Jim Watson, who has pushed council to go ahead with the project dismissed criticisms and repeated that it is not his job to protect heritage buildings in Ottawa and people will always complain. “Designing buildings is not our role or expertise. Some people won’t accept that the addition won’t be a replica of the Chateau” Watson said. Council voted to approve the controversial addition 14-10.