Chateau Laurier Update

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In September 2016, the owners of the Chateau Laurier, Larco Investments, unveiled an expansion plan for the historic hotel. The parking garage addition at the rear of the property was crumbling and their proposal was to replace it with a 12-storey addition featuring 200 new hotel rooms. This proposal was heavily criticized and the architect revised the plan and came back in November of the same year. The new design was 8% smaller but still significantly controversial. They tried to improve the sightlines but the proposed expansion still towered behind the existing hotel.

A year later, Larco returned to the community with a third design. This one was likened to a glass box using none of the architectural features of the Chateau Laurier although it was shorter and preserved the roofline of the existing hotel. May 2018 brought a fourth design and that is where we need to begin to understand how we got to where we are today.

When the fourth design came to Built Heritage Sub-Committee in June 2018, a committee that I have been a member of since 2012, we sought to create a compromise that would resolve the design issues. We also, admittedly, had the intention to allow Larco to move forward with what was felt to be a much-needed expansion with additional rooms in the downtown core, not to mention the reinstatement of their missing parking garage. In addition to all of the normal heritage guidelines and policies Larco needed to meet, we added three conditions of approval. They were all aimed to have the addition, which at this time was a box, to take more elements from the Chateau Laurier, including an increase in Indiana Limestone and the copper that is synonymous with the roof. This compromise motion was drafted by Councillors Tobi Nussbaum and Mathieu Fleury as well as Committee Vice Chair Barry Padolsky. Council then passed it unanimously. Admittedly, this is something that I helped achieve.

To summarize, we entered 2019 knowing we had approved a bar shaped building in the spirit of the buildings that surrounded Major’s Hill Park, namely the American Embassy, the Connaught Building and the National Art Gallery. What we expected was a more sympathetic design using more of the materials from the original hotel. Of note, however, is that no matter what design was before us, the interaction between the building and the park was actually an improvement to the solid wall that was the former parking garage.

The final design was unveiled in May of this year. According to the applicant, and confirmed by our Heritage Planners, Larco met all of the necessary criteria and the conditions imposed by Council a year earlier. The new design was lowered to seven storeys and the room count dropped to 147. More limestone was added and vertical bronze elements were added to the roofline on the west and east portions of the expansion. Nevertheless, Built Heritage Sub-Committee felt the conditions were not met but no longer had jurisdiction to render a decision due to the approval of their heritage permit in 2018.

Staying on the subject of design, I just want to be clear that an exact replica was and never will be an option for the Chateau Laurier. I have heard some people suggest this. An exact replica actually goes against most heritage guidelines and it certainly goes against Parks Canada’s heritage building guidelines. The only designs Council can deal with are the ones that are presented to us. We cannot dictate a design and we cannot force an applicant to get a new architect.

Fast forward to June 13 at Planning Committee. This was the final vote of substance on the Chateau Laurier. It was the Site Plan application. Site Plan does not rise to Council. While several members of the public and the heritage community came out to speak against the expansion, Planning Committee passed the site plan by a vote of 8-3. I was one of the three to vote against the application. Important to note that up until after this final vote on the Chateau Laurier, the opposition from the general public and from members of Council was not vocal.

Everything from that point until today has been political theatre. Councillors, especially those who are beyond their first term, understand process. We understand policy. We know what our votes mean and we know what happens to files from that point forward. What we don’t always know is how the public will react. Needless to say, the reaction in recent weeks has been boisterous.  

In an effort to sway the public to believe we could actually stop the addition, the motion was introduced to “revoke” the heritage permit. The reality is that Council has no ability to revoke the permit so what the motion really attempted to do was set up road blocks forcing Larco to either challenge us in court or redesign. We already knew they were not interested in a sixth design. I confirmed this personally before I voted against the site plan application. Therefore, the motion to halt the expansion was misleading. These are the types of votes I consider to be built on political posturing. It is about telling the public what they want to hear knowing full well they will not get what they want. It is the “well, we tried” approach. I do not operate that way so I did not support the motion.

The court option is an interesting one and it is not dissimilar from the Minto Mahogany proposal from 2008. The City’s record of defending Council opposition to Council approved policy is poor. If you are the one being taken to court, you merely use our own policies against us and we have no supporting arguments. On the other hand, when the community takes the City and the applicant to court together, it actually has a higher likelihood of success. Therefore, I believe those opposed and willing to challenge are on better footing today than they would have been if the motion to “revoke” the permit had succeeded.

This issue is not over. We will continue to hear about it in the weeks and months ahead. As convoluted as the entire process has been, I hope I have been able to adequately explain how we got from September 2016 to today. I also hope that you can understand the reasons for my vote at the most recent Council meeting. It was NOT a vote for or against the design. I will leave it at that.

In two weeks, I will dive into the Solid Waste Master Plan review.

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If you have any comments, questions or concerns, please feel free to email me at Scott.Moffatt@ottawa.ca or contact me by phone at 613-580-2491. For information on Rideau-Goulbourn issues, please visit RideauGoulbourn.ca.

Updates to the Green Bin Program & More Updates

The Scott Moffatt Golf 4 Youth Classic is in one week and it is not too late to register to play! Register today to help support the Youth of Manotick Association and the Richmond Youth Centre:   https://www.golf4youth.ca/ .

The Scott Moffatt Golf 4 Youth Classic is in one week and it is not too late to register to play! Register today to help support the Youth of Manotick Association and the Richmond Youth Centre: https://www.golf4youth.ca/.

In recent weeks, there have been a number of items that have come to Council that have been the subject of much debate and discussion, such as the Chateau Laurier addition, Climate Emergency and single-use plastics. Over the course of the summer, I will dedicate this column to shedding light on these issues and Council’s decision, specifically my position. Before that, though, Council made another decision last year, which will now come into effect. That decision was to expand the green bin program to permit the use of plastic bags.

Plastic bags will be allowed as a bagging option for organics in the green bin, such as food scraps, paper towel and tissue, and coffee grinds, beginning July 2nd. This is in addition to the current options of placing organics in paper bags in the green bin. Pet waste will also be accepted, including dog waste and kitty litter.

In a recent survey conducted by Hill & Knowlton commissioned by the City of Ottawa, sixty per cent of people who seldom use or do not use the green bin said they would participate if plastic bags were allowed. There are a number of reasons residents have stated why they do not use it but the primary one in our area has been about the messy nature of the bin. These changes will help address those concerns and make the green bin more convenient and easier to keep clean. In addition, using the green bin takes advantage of weekly pickup, while garbage going to landfill is collected bi-weekly.

The organic waste facility has been retrofitted to rip open the plastic bags and separate the organic waste for composting. The plastic bags are then disposed in the landfill. Getting more homes participating in the green bin program will divert more organic materials from the landfill and significantly extend its life.

If residents choose to use plastic bags to dispose of their organics, the City encourages them to reuse bags that may otherwise be thrown out, such as milk or bread bags. The plastic bag option is just one of many that are tailored to our residents’ comfort level and interest.  The other options include:

  • Paper bags to keep their green bin clean – including leaf and yard waste bags

  • Newspaper linings in the bin and kitchen containers

  • Cereal boxes and milk cartons to contain food waste

The City encourages residents who are using these options to continue their current practices. Residents can explore all options and learn what type of organic materials go into the green bin at ottawa.ca/greenbin.

For residents who have curbside collection but don’t have a green bin, go online to my.service.ottawa.ca or call 3-1-1 and one will be delivered to your front door. 

Borrowing Park Equipment from the City

As we approach the time of year when communities host special events and celebrations in parks, this is a reminder that additional park equipment like picnic tables, waste receptacles and recycling receptacles can be reserved through the City's Centralized Facility Allocations Unit by calling Kaitlyn Lester at 613-580-2424 ext. 41497 or at Kathleen.Lester@Ottawa.ca. Because stock is limited, and to avoid disappointment, organizers are encouraged to book at least seven days before an event.  
 
The available equipment is loaned out at no cost to event organizers. However, the City is not able to offer delivery of the equipment to event locations and therefore, user groups are responsible for making transportation arrangements to receive and return the equipment from City ward yards from Monday to Friday 8:30am to 2:30pm. As required, staff can provide organizers with a list of available commercial transportation services as a reference source at the time that reservations are made.

Nominations Open for 2019 Order of Ottawa

The Order of Ottawa recognizes the professional achievements and outstanding service of exceptional Ottawa residents. This prestigious civic award honours up to 15 of Ottawa’s most deserving individuals each year. Any resident of Ottawa who has made a significant contribution in a professional capacity that has been of benefit to our community may be nominated.

The Order of Ottawa is intended to recognize those who have made significant contributions through their professional endeavours, to life in the city in any of the following areas: arts and culture, business, philanthropy, health care, education, public service, labour, communications and media, science, sports and entertainment and other fields that benefit Ottawa.

The Brian Kilrea Award for Excellence in Coaching, which will be presented at the Order of Ottawa awards ceremony in the fall of 2019, recognizes the contribution of an amateur coach who best exemplifies the qualities of leadership and commitment that have been the hallmarks of Brian Kilrea’s career. Mr. Kilrea is a retired hockey head coach, general manager and player, and is best known for his 35-year association with the Ottawa 67’s. He is a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame, has played and coached in the NHL and, with more than 1,000 career victories, he is the most successful coach in Canadian junior hockey history.

Nominations for the Order of Ottawa or the Brian Kilrea Award for Excellence in Coaching may be completed online or by filling out a nomination form in pamphlets that are available at the City Hall Information Desk, and at your local community centre, public library, or at any client service centre. The deadline for nominations is Friday, September 13th at 11:59pm EST.

Previous Rideau-Goulbourn recipients include Drs. Rod & Lucy Rabb, Cyril Leeder and William Tupper. More information on both awards can be found online at ottawa.ca/orderofottawa. Nominations by immediate family members, self-nominations, and posthumous nominations will not be accepted. Elected municipal, provincial and federal officials are not eligible for this award while they are in office.

Farmers’ Markets

It’s time to enjoy our local Farmers’ Markets! The Manotick Farmers’ Market (in Dickinson Square) runs on Saturdays from 9 am until 3 pm. The North Gower Farmers’ Market (located at 2397 Roger Stevens Drive) runs on Saturdays from 8 am until 1 pm. Both markets will run until October 12th. Shop local and enjoy!

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If you have any comments, questions or concerns, please feel free to email me at Scott.Moffatt@ottawa.ca or contact me by phone at 613-580-2491. For information on Rideau-Goulbourn issues, please visit RideauGoulbourn.ca.