Barrie city council gives nod to towering project

Height of the four-tower development was too much for a number of residents

What Barrie residents got was a compromise, according to Mayor Jeff Lehman. City council on Monday night approved Official Plan and zoning amendments for the development of four high-rises, 41, 38, 35 and 25-storeys in the area of Lakeshore Drive and Bradford Street.

“There was an attempt by council to address the concerns of the residents. I know we are hearing a lot of residents saying that we’re not listening to their voices,” said Lehman. “We did hear them. We did not go far enough for most of them. That’s a reality.”

The SmartCentres project is one of the largest development proposals in Barrie’s history.

Lehman did not shy away from the fact council heard a lot of voices opposed to the height.

“I think the specific concern we really need to keep in mind here was because it was seen as a waterfront development. The front building is very much a waterfront development. The front building that is a hotel and a 25-storey building is right on the waterfront.”

The mayor pointed out the other three buildings back onto Bradford Street, which he said was an arterial road with a lot of extra capacity.

Prior to city council’s vote, there were two more deputations opposing the development, with the focus on height of the buildings and intensification.

Keenan Aylwin, the councillor for the area where the project is to be constructed, said there was a need to strike a balance, and he believed council had done that.

“We know Barrie has to grow and the province sets our growth targets. We need to make sure that growth is sustainable, both environmentally and economically, and intensification allows us do that.”

Councillor Mike McCann wasn’t buying what he was hearing from around the council table. He said SmartCentres original proposal of four high-rises of 46, 39, 36 and 25-storeys should have been left untouched.

“I really felt strongly that 46 was the right number, because 46 to 41 stories, I just don’t see the difference. I think most people would agree with me that it’s more of an emotional answer, not a logical answer.” said McCann.

The development consists of 1,600 residential units, commercial space and a hotel with 145 rooms.

“It is on one of the last very good development sites on the edge of our downtown,” said Lehman. “that has a chance to significantly turn around an area of the city that could use the assistance.”