OTTAWA -- After years of controversy and several proposed designs, the owners of the Fairmont Chateau Laurier have received the green light to build an expansion at the back of the historic hotel.

Council voted 14 to 10 to approve the design changes to the hotel expansion and issue a heritage permit.

Councillors Riley Brockington, Rick Chiarelli, Diane Deans, Mathieu Fleury, Theresa Kavanagh, Rawlson King, Jeff Leiper, Catherine McKenney, Carol Anne Meehan and Shawn Menard voted against the proposal.

"I strongly feel the heritage building should be the focus and the addition should remain in its shadow to maintain its architectural dominance," said Fleury, noting the Fairmont Chateau Laurier is a national historic site.

"The addition in front of us today is higher."

Coun. King told council that the proposed expansion to the Fairmont Chateau Laurier is a "middling, average and of ordinary design. It represents good enough."

However, Coun. Glen Gower said "let's not be afraid of change" as he voted in favour of the expansion plan.

"It's a significant upgrade to the downtown in terms to the integration with Major's Hill Park," said Gower, noting there will be three years of construction activity creating jobs coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Major's Hill Park was always facing the back of the hotel, the hotel never integrated with Major's Hill Park in any way – it will now."

Fairmont Chateau Laurier

Larco Investments, the hotel’s owner, filed a new application with the city in November for a 159-room, two-pavilion addition at the back of the hotel on Rideau Street.

According to the application, the 11,846-square-metre addition includes two pavilions - one a 10-storey tower, the other 11 storeys tall, extending from the east and west arms of the original hotel and connected by a transparent two-storey connector. There would be 159 long-term suites, 301 parking spaces in a five level underground garage, space for meetings and special events and a landscaped courtyard.

Mayor Jim Watson noted Heritage Ottawa supports the new design for the Fairmont Chateau Laurier moving forward.

The proposed addition replaces the parking garage of the Chateau Laurier.

The National Capital Commission will also review the application.

In December 2016, the City of Ottawa received the initial application for an addition to the rear of the Chateau Laurier. The proposed design of the expansion was criticized by politicians and the public.