City of Barrie pondering development including 45-storey tower and hotel for a downtown site

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Ontario Construction News staff writer

The city of Barrie is growing up, not out. Way up, in fact.

With several 20- and 25-storey developments already approved for the downtown area, council is now considering a proposal that includes four mixed-use towers with 25, 35, 38 and 45-storeys.

During a public meeting Monday night at planning committee, Paula Bustard from Smart Centres Real Estate Trust made a presentation on behalf of Barrie Lakeshore Developments.

The developer is seeking Official Plan and zoning-bylaw amendments for properties at 51-75 Bradford St., as well as 20 Checkley St., to build four mixed-use towers including approximately 1,900 units.

The plan also includes more than 3,300 square metres of ground-floor commercial space and 152 hotel suites built in several phases, said Bustard, adding she believes it would “enhance ” the waterfront.

Bustard said she believes the eight-acre site is designed to comply with provincial growth policy. She called the proposal “a unique opportunity” to develop a large parcel of waterfront property in a naturalized setting.

The development would “activate and animate” Bradford Street with retail development.

It’s a popular area for development proposals in the city. HIP Developments has plans for the land directly across the street – the former site of Barrie Central Collegiate and Bustard assured council that there will be “very generous tower separation.”

A hotel would front onto Lakeshore Drive, and developers plan to build a network of walking trails through Bunkers Creek.

Several residents are opposed to the height of the towers, parking, and density.

Bob Ebenstein, who lives downtown, spoke at the public meeting to say the proposal is better suited to Toronto.

“I think that it would definitely change the quality of life in this neighbourhood. I think the scale is way out of whack,” he said.

Another neighbour spoke about the potential impact on Barrie’s waterfront amenities including the marina, popular parks, and boardwalk.

“The waterfront is the jewel of Barrie and is testament to the wisdom and foresight of previous city administrators and planners who limited development to preserve our gift,” Charlie Talbot warned.

Bustard briefly addressed the concerns.

“I know height is probably the biggest issue I’m hearing tonight,” she said. “I think the overall density on the site.”

Michelle Banfield, director of development services said staff is reviewing growth targets, urban design, how the development fits with existing and approved projects, flood-plain protection, traffic, parking, and commercial uses.

She expects to present a recommendation to the planning committee this fall.

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