Largest development in Barrie’s history inches closer to approval

SmartCentres has proposed four buildings ranging in height from 25 to 46 storeys near the waterfront

A proposed development in the area of Barrie’s waterfront featuring four highrises from 25 to 46 storeys took a giant step forward on Monday night when the city’s planning committee approved zoning bylaw and official plan amendments.

The SmartCentres project includes 1,700 residential units, a hotel and commercial space. Some councillors expressed disappointment a conference centre is not part of the package.

Residents opposed to the development have listed concerns such as building height, increased traffic and shadows created by the highrises.

The property is located near the waterfront, in the area of Bradford and Checkley Streets.

Councillor Keenan Aylwin, whose ward includes the downtown, said he recognizes not everyone is happy with this proposal.

“The reality is that Barrie is changing and growing whether we like it or not,” explained Aylwin. “The province dictates that we’ll be growing to a population of 210,000 by 2031 and up to more than 250,000 by 2041, and that a substantial amount of that growth will be taking place within our urban growth centre, our downtown and waterfront.”

The city stands to collect more than $14 million in cash-in-lieu of parkland and in the building permit application.

Mayor Jeff Lehman did not shy away from the fact that council’s decision about the development might run opposite to what most residents want.

“This may not be popular for us to approve it. That may not necessarily make it wrong, in the sense of our decisions around what is best for the city.”

The decision made by committee must still be approved at next week’s council meeting.

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