Barrie’s tallest tower being called ‘monolithic monstrosity’ by nearby neighbours who say 34-storeys is too high

By Robin MacLennan

Ontario Construction News editor

A proposal for a 34-storey, mixed-use condominium with eight townhouses and ground-floor commercial space just outside downtown core could become Barrie’s tallest tower ever.

Located at the northwest corner of Sophia and Bayfield streets – the site sits immediately west of a proposed eight-storey apartment building. The proposal was the subject of a public meeting last week.

Affordable rental building planned for the shadow of a 34-storey condo tower near downtown Barrie

There is currently a four-storey office building on the property. It is in the city-centre and the urban growth centre which has a density target minimum of 150 to 200 units per hectare.

If approved, the Rockap Holdings development would set a record in Barrie with a building height of 111 metres and a density of 542.2 units per hectare, including:

  • 467 condos
  • 8 townhouses
  • 5 “live/work” units

A zoning bylaw amendment application has been filed and, while not a part of the original application, MacKinnon says Rockap Holdings Inc. “continues to be receptive” to providing affordable housing, although not rental units. The number, current, “is unknown.”

Nearby residents have questioned the height – 34-storeys – of the structure, saying it doesn’t fit in the neighbourhood and will have a negative impact on their properties and the city.

“Certainly, the city has either currently in process or approved various heights within the urban growth centre,” MacKinnon said. “I think so far the current proposal from Smart Centres has the highest heights at 40-plus storeys.

“We can appreciate that 34 definitely seems high, but as the city of Barrie continues to evolve into a denser city, these heights, in our view, are certainly not going to be one-offs. They will certainly become likely the norm.”

Along with the residential component, the plan includes commercial units at ground level.

A shadow study was completed on Dec. 21.

“You can see as you move from morning through different hours, there certainly will be some shadow-casting provided by the plan . . .  but, based on the design we have tried to minimize the shadows,” MacKinnon said, responding to a common concern from residents.

Online, residents are discussing many proposed tall towers in Barrie refer to them as “monolithic monstrosities.”

“I don’t see why the city of Barrie needs to project that kind of image,” said Janet Ness. “It would look totally out of place.” Ness invited councillors to drive south on Bayfield Street today and imagine how the new tower would impact the city and how towers would impact the waterfront.

“The height disturbs me. It’s not safe and it won’t look good.”

Planning staff are reviewing the technical aspects of the application and a report with the staff recommendation will be presented to council in the second quarter of 2021.


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