Proposed 34-storey condo up for discussion at public meeting in Barrie Tuesday night

The development would be the tallest building in the City's history

Look up. Look way up.

That’s what people will be doing if a developer gets the green light to build a 34-storey condo on the northwest corner of Bayfield Street and Sophia Street West.

The next process takes places Tuesday night at planning committee with a virtual public meeting.

Rockcap Holdings proposal includes 1,014 square metres of ground floor commercial space, associated parking and eight townhouse units fronting on to Maple Avenue, for a total of 480 units.

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The subject lands are located with Barrie’s Urban Growth Centre.

In written submission to planning committee, Janet Ness calls the development “an unsightly monolith.”

“I can’t understand council’s reasons to consider giving approval for a 34-storey condo tower which will not only be totally and majorly out of proportion with current ‘high-rise’ buildings standing in the downtown/waterfront core, but will also be totally out of place standing at the foot of our surrounding historic and residential areas,” said Ness. “You will see that single tower sticking straight up in the sky three times higher than any other building in the downtown core and surrounding neighbourhood and it will stand out as an unsightly monolith.”

On the other side of the coin, Wendy Cook is eager to see the project happen.

“This development will have a huge and positive impact on the entire neighbourhood,” she told planning committee in a written statement.

Area residents laid out a number of concerns at a neighbourhood meeting in August.

  • Increased traffic and safety concerns on Bayfield Street, Maple Avenue and Sophia Street West;
  • Potential impacts associated with building height, such as shadowing and a loss of privacy on surrounding single detached residential lots;
  • Visual impacts to the downtown skyline;
  • Operational challenges for the City’s Fire and Emergency Services Department;
  • Increased population and therefore a higher demand for City services and facilities;
  • A desire to see affordable housing units included in the proposed development

Planning staff and the City’s Technical Review Team is mulling over the application, along with the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority. There are several key planning and land-use related items being considered including:

  • Appropriateness of the proposed building height in the context of the City’s Urban Growth Centre;
  • Compatibility with surrounding land uses, as it relates to shadowing, providing stepping provisions, landscape buffers and fencing;
  • The impacts the development may have on traffic and pedestrian safety, particularly along Sophia Street West and Maple Avenue;
  • Ensuring that the proposed build form, site layout and overall design contribute to creating an active streetscape;
  • Confirmation that the proposed development can be supported by existing services and infrastructure;
  • Ensuring that the development meets the operational standards of the City’s Fire and Emergency Services Department;
  • Preservation of private, public and shared vegetation;
  • That any environmental impacts associated with past commercial uses are mitigated or remediated prior to the redevelopment of the site

The applicant is seeking a rezoning for the property.

The next step after the public meeting is a report to come from planning staff that is not expected in the laps of planning committee or City Council until the winter or spring of 2021.