HIP Developments halts investment in multi-use project on two former school properties in wake of SCS decision

Developer says it's reviewing all legal options available

There is already fallout from Barrie city council’s decision to endorse a supervised consumption site (SCS) at 11 Innisfil Street.

Waterloo-based HIP Developments, in an email to Barrie 360, said its continued investment in its multi-use development at the former site of Barrie Central Collegiate and neighbouring Prince of Wales elementary school will not proceed until further consultation and clarification meets their needs.

“We don’t believe this is the correct location for the community and we were not consulted by the City or the Proponent. We will be reviewing all legal options available and as of right now our continued investment in the project will not proceed until further consultation and clarification meets with our satisfaction. This decision has halted a $250 million investment in Barrie and the jobs, taxes, levies and needed rental apartment that came with it, said HIP Developments President Scott Higgins in his statement.

HIP’s project includes 600 rental apartments in three buildings, including two 20-storey towers and a 10-storey structure. YMCA Simcoe-Muskoka also plans to build a new multi-million-dollar facility at the site.

The properties include a portion of 125 Dunlop Street and 34-50 Bradford Street.

In a recorded 8-2 vote, council endorsed 11 Innisfil Street, the location selected by the applicants, Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit and the Canadian Mental Health Association – Simcoe County.

Councillors Gary Harvey and Mike McCann were in opposition to the site.

HIP’s claim they were not consulted by the city or proponent had a familiar ring. Several people who made deputations to council at Monday’s meeting said they were not informed about the process or were led to believe the SCS was going to 80 Bradford Street.

A selection advisory committee had also considered locations at 110 Dunlop Street West, 11 Sophia Street West and 192 Bradford Street.

In early May, the applicants said the preferred location for the SCS was 19 Innisfil Street, after suggesting in March that 80 Bradford Street was one of four possible sites, then later clarified a few weeks ago that the correct address was 11 Innisfil Street, which is at the back of the Bradford Street complex.

Health officials said there were 133 confirmed and probable opioid-related deaths in Simcoe Muskoka in 2020, with 47 confirmed and probable deaths in Barrie from January-September 2020, two times the 2019 rate for that period.

The SCS allows individuals to use pre-obtained drugs under the supervision of health-care professionals.

Endorsement from city council is not the end of the story. The applicants must send an application to the federal government for an exemption from the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act and to the province seeking funding approval for an SCS.

The Ontario government currently funds 16 safe consumption sites across the province and is committed to allowing five more. A decision on the Barrie application could take six months after it has been submitted