The ups and downs of a proposed highrise project near Barrie’s waterfront was on display again.
City council’s planning committee on Tuesday evening voted in favour of a revised motion by Councillor Keenan Aylwin to lower the height of three of the proposed towers to 41, 38 & 35-storeys. The fourth building would remain at 25-storeys.
Aylwin said the project was the biggest development in the city’s history and he recognized that not everyone was going to be happy with this development.
“What we’re striving to do here with this amendment is to find that balance where we can respect the existing neighbourhood as much as possible, while still recognizing the need for growth and sustainable growth within the city.”
The proposed SmartsCentres development is in Aylwin’s ward.
“We know the development pattern of Barrie over the past couple of decades has been a pattern of suburban sprawl,” said Aylwin. “We know that type of development is less sustainable in terms of environmental concerns, and also in terms of keeping taxes low and servicing infrastructure within those developments. We need to start building up.”
SmartCentres original proposal was four highrises of 46, 39, 36 and 25- storeys. Last week the developer offered to reduce the 46-storey tower to 39 and the 39-storey tower to 38.
“We believe it is equally important to be a good neighbour and member of the community,” said SmartCentres, in a letter to the city’s Chief Administrative Officer.
The development proposes 1,900 residential units, commercial space and a hotel on Bradford Street near Checkley.
Opposition has mainly focused on the height of the towers, with concerns about shadowing and the impact on the city’s skyline.
Deputy Mayor Barry Ward said probably nobody will be happy with these compromises.
He said it was important to mention that the buildings are going to be on Bradford Street.
“I can’t see a downside to this project. We’ve been talking for years about revitalizing Bradford Street. We’re actually taking the first concrete steps to revitalizing Bradford Street,” Ward pointed out.
Councillor Mike McCann was the only vote against the revised motion.
“I’m just baffled that we’re actually having this discussion from 46 to 41. If you wanted to listen to the residents, as some council members said that it’s really important to listen to the residents, then we’d be talking about a 20-storey building.”
He suggested council was having a false sense of accomplishment.
McCann felt nothing was being accomplished by lowering the tower from 46 to 41, and he wanted to go back to the original motion that city staff approved, which was the initial plan presented by SmartCentres.
Tuesday’s planning committee decision will go for consideration by city council at its Jan. 11 meeting. Whatever decision is made, there is still a statutory appeal period of 20-days.