Residents call for Chateau Laurier change at picnic hosted by Tom Green

Dozens of residents and local politicians took to Major’s Hill Park Saturday for a picnic hosted by Ottawa-born comedian Tom Green, looking to draw attention to the current plan for an addition at the historic Chateau Laurier hotel.

 by: Andrew Pinsent

About 200 residents took to Major’s Hill Park Saturday for a picnic hosted by Ottawa-born comedian Tom Green looking to draw attention to the current plan for an addition at the historic Chateau Laurier hotel. 

The event, organized by Green online using the hashtag #SavetheChateauLaurier, comes as public backlash over Larco Investments planned design for the addition has ramped up, which led to a last ditch effort by some on Council to revoke the heritage permit for the property. 

Council eventually voted the motion down at its last meeting before summer break, a meeting Green attended and a decision he felt was the wrong one. 

He said Saturday’s event was meant to “causally discuss” the changes and called the turnout “super positive.” 

“When you get people who care rallied behind an important issue, it’s a really great thing,” he said. 

Green was in Ottawa for a summer visit with his parents, a yearly ritual for the Los Angeles-based comedian who has always maintained strong ties to his hometown and was mobbed by fans throughout the picnic. He stopped to take pictures with a number of fans, asking them to share the picture to social media with the hashtag #SavetheChateauLaurier. 

Senator Jim Munson and Ottawa Centre MP Catherine McKenna also came to thank Green for showing support, with McKenna offering Green a box of donuts from Westboro’s Suzy Q shop. 

Munson felt the people and “citizen advocates would have the final say and in an interview Green eventually took over, adding he hoped it would become a local issue in the upcoming federal election.

“I’m one voice but all of these people are the voices of the appetite for change,” he said. “People who want to run for a Member of Parliament or the next time we run for city hall, the issue should be front and centre.” 

Green had asked residents to come for a visit and eat lunch at the park, while enjoying the view of the Chateau Laurier from Major’s Hill Park, an offer taken up by Ottawa resident Sherry Frantz, who was also at Council’s last meeting and remains upset over the changes. 

“I love this building and it’s a piece of architecture from history,” she said, adding she agreed with Green’s assessment that the view of the iconic hotel from the park will be obscured. “You’re going to really lose what it stands for.”

Frantz was glad Green picked up the issue to bring public awareness to it but also feels it “speaks volumes” of the City’s leadership and how they’ve chosen to handle this. 

“I think they need to stand up here.” 

While plans for the addition are expected to move ahead at this point, some advocacy groups have threatened legal action and have said they’re currently exploring such a move. 

Frantz said her eternal optimism has her hoping changes will eventually happen. 

“I think we’re standing looking at it right now so there’s still hope.”

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