The Inn at Laurel Point has new zoning and can expand after Victoria city council approved a rezoning application.
The hotel on Montreal Street currently sits on a piece of l is under a provincial land-use contract.
The province has decided that all land-use contracts will expire at the end of June 2024, meaning without a municipal zoning change, the site would revert to two zones for harbour and industrial use.
On Thursday, council voted unanimously to rezone the site, allowing the hotel to continue operations and look at future developments and renovations.
At the public hearing, Jon Graham, an architect representing the hotel, said the Inn at Laurel Point hopes to replace its north wing.
“The Laurel Wing, the old brick wing, was always expected to be replaced in the future,” Graham said. “It is built to a much lower standard, it can’t be retrofitted. It’s got very low floor-to-floor heights, it’s got very small rooms, and it’s built in a very energy-inefficient way. The plan was always to replace that.”
Graham presented several potential concept designs of what a hopeful renovation would look like.
He said the plan would be to mimic the hotel’s Erickson Wing, changing the shape of the building to step back as it gets higher rather than be a straight wall.
This would add density to the building, allowing renovations to increase room size, but the sloping setback minimizes that appearance.
Graham said it also wouldn’t add any additional shadows to the parklands, keeping them essentially the same as they are now.
“We learned how to do this when we did the Erickson Wing because the hotel didn’t want to shade its own garden,” Graham explained. “It actually improves the relationship between the building and the park.”
The potential renovations would also add height to the building, going from four floors to seven.
Graham added that even though there are more floors, the sloping setback allows minimal view disruptions for surrounding buildings.
Marianne Alto, mayor of Victoria, said the rezoning approval was a great move to ensure the hotel’s future.
“I thought it was really exciting,” Alto said. “And certainly if that is the direction where the folks go, I think it will eventually be something that will generate a lot of interest, a lot of debate and a lot of discussion.”
She clarified that these concept designs are, at this point, just concepts, noting proper renovations and development proposals will need to be brought and approved by council at a later date.
According to Alto, the rezoning approval just opened the door for renovations to become a reality.