Barrie residents against townhouse development on greenspace

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A proposed development for 104 three- and four-storey townhouses in Barrie’s growing southend isn’t getting rave reviews from neighbours. In fact, residents are urging city council to reject the plan and preserve the vacant greenspace.

A virtual public meeting was held Tuesday regarding Huronia Barrie Land Inc’s plans to build on land at 521 Huronia Rd., south of Big Bay Point Road.

barrie site rendering

Some residents became emotional and choked up while they spoke.

The developer is asking for Official Plan and zoning-bylaw amendments to rezone a section of the 15-acre property from agricultural and environmental protection (EP) to residential multiple second density with provisions to protect the environmentally sensitive land. Also, the Environmental Protection designation would remain for the Lover’s Creek wetland.

In his presentation at the public meeting, Eldon Theodore of MHBC Planning, said the project would respect and maintain the wetlands and woodlot by seeking to have the undeveloped land protected to the south.

The proposed project would have its main access off Huronia Road, although Theodore said city staff have indicated the need for a connection to Loon Avenue to help with traffic flow and services. He noted the developer to the east may also seek access through the proposed development in the future.

The plan includes attached garages for the townhomes, 35 parking spots at ground level and 127 underground.

“I bought my house because it backs onto this gorgeous forest,” a resident remarked. “This is a highlight of our city. My friends from Toronto come and they love Barrie now because they see how you can live in cottage country, but still be in the city.”

Michelle Banfield, director of development services, updated the status of the proposal and highlighted concerns raised by residents including the location of the access road to the development, preservation of the Lovers’ Creek wetland and wildlife habitat, safety concern and a potential drop in property levels.

Resident Monica Sergeant called the area a marshland – a very sensitive wetland.

“If you, as proposed, feel that it will all be fine if you go in and dig it up and just pave it over … where is that water going to go? These homes will have major flooding issues in their basements.

“Why is it essential that this small plot of land needs to be rezoned from industrial … If it was not good enough for industrial, why is it suitable for multiple dwellings? We should be preserving it instead of plowing everything over with pavement.”

A staff report will be reviewed by council in early 2021.

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