Jim Watson has turned the page and has moved on from the fiasco that is all about the design of an addition that the owners of the Chateau Laurier what to pop on the site of the torn down parking garage. Jim Watson has moved on, he’s moved onto to his LRT to the City of Ottawa gets the keys to the trains the middle of August from Rideau Transit Group. He is getting the keys more than a year late and several missed deadlines later.
Jim Watson and 12 other councillors have moved on since Thursday July 11th when reconsideration of Councillor Fleury’s motion to deny Larco, the owners of the Chateau Laurier their permit to build an addition. Ten Ottawa City Councillors led by Mathieu Fleury, Heritage Ottawa and thousands of Ottawa voters that have signed petitions haven’t moved on, rather they’ve firmly planted themselves in a position that they hope will block backhoes from starting construction.
This story goes back years, the major sticking point is that City Council passed a heritage permit. The owners of the Chateau have presented five designs, all of which have been panned by the public, but have met the guidelines set out in the heritage permit. The application has a few minor steps before ground can be broken and construction can begin on a design that has been called a car radiator. City Council has the right to deny a permit to build if it doesn’t like the design, but in this case they didn’t, fearing a costly lawsuit.
It appears that a majority, maybe all of council does not like the design the owners are determined to build, but 14 voted to deny Fleury his opportunity, one last time, to have the permit revoked. Mayor Watson must have let out a big sigh before he slid out the back door of council chambers to begin his vacation when the final vote tally was counted.
I think the problem the public (and few public figures) has with the design is that the architects haven’t really veered far from design number one. The fourth reiteration of the original drawing is still basically a box being stapled to a castle. I’ve seen more imagination in the design of a building on a beach.
While Larco dreams of Bob the Builder, Councillors Fleury, Meehan, Deans, and others along with Heritage Ottawa and the Friends of the Chateau Laurier will be spending the time the Mayor is away looking to stop those dreams. While all this planning takes place will the Mayor actually has a peaceful vacation with nothing on his mind?
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