Housing project slammed
By BOB BRUTON BARRIE EXAMINER
Residents gave a rough ride Monday to a development which could add 2,172 housing units in south-Barrie.
“I feel like I am about to have an entire city built right behind my house,” said Fred Van Arragon, who lives adjacent to this site. “I am concerned about the sheer volume of people this would house. The entire surrounding area is low density residential.”
Developers Baywood Homes/Options for Homes want to develop a variety of medium-and high-density housing, including street townhouses, four-and six-plexes, and a number of apartments varying from six to 24 storeys on almost 100 acres of land at 700 and 725 Mapleview Dr. East.
This land is located immediately east of the St. Paul’s GO Transit Station, and the plan includes 46 acres deeded to the city.
Baywood/Options is asking for changes to the city’s Official Plan and Zoning Bylaw, and approval of its subdivision plan for this development.
“This plan achieves the intensification targets of both the province and the city,” said Brandi Clement of the Jones Consulting Group, representing Baywood/ Options.
But residents expressed a wide variety of concerns about the plan at Monday’s public meeting, packing the council chambers to speak their piece.
“I just wish I would have known about this when I moved in three years ago,” said Ron Redmond of nearby Sun King Crescent. “This was an environmental area.
“How are we going to sell, knowing there is going to be another city behind us?” Redmond said.
Ross Cotton has lived in Barrie for 30 years, and in this area for about five years.
“I’d like some justification why this density is necessary,” Cotton said, noting he would prefer the site be done entirely by Baywood’s non-profit partner, Options for Homes.
The traffic created by the project’s density on an already busy Mapleview Drive was mentioned, as were the shading and winds that would be created.
Bill and Ann Church live in the neighbourhood and have concerns about the development, and what will happen to the wildlife and habitat. Since 2001, they have seen foxes, deer, rabbits and many birds there — including Canada Geese and Blue Herons.
“We realize that the Province of Ontario wants intensive development within 500 metres of a GO station,” they said in a letter to the city. “However, we do not think that this means having to destroy the natural habitats for wildlife and developing wetlands and swampy areas near streams.
“It would be a shame in this era of going green, if this natural beauty of the land were removed.”
“I think it would be too bad to put houses and high-rise apartments on a wetland,” said Bill Church, who also attended Monday’s public meeting.
Van Arragon says it’s a peaceful neighbourhood surrounded by green space, Hewitt’s Creek and the surrounding watershed.
“Now, a proposed development is potentially threatening 38 years of peace and quiet in our neighbourhood,” he told council. “In my opinion, it would simply be wrong to introduce high density residential to the subject property.
“It simply does not fit in with the surrounding neighbourhoods.”
But the development did have its supporters at Monday’s public meeting.
“Growth should pay for itself, but sprawl almost never pays for itself,” said Eric Jacoby-Hawkins of Barrie’s Green Party. “Density like this does pay for itself. This density is what non-sprawl looks like.”
“Do not fold to the pressures of NIMBYs (Not In My Back Yard),” said James Bazely, president of the Ontario Home Builders Association.
The Baywood/Options plan now goes to the city’s planning department, which will make a recommendation to councillors about the applications — likely in 2011.
Early this year, Barrie councillors denied Baywood Homes a one-year extension of its draft plan approval status for this property — for about 2,000 total housing units there, including 750 for non-profit use.
Council initially approved a draft plan of subdivisions for this land in January, 2006, and granted an extension three years later — but told the developer its plans didn’t conform with intensification standards.
Too many single, detached units, not enough townhouses and other forms of compact housing, in other words. The city was also encouraging mixed-use commercial, shopping, dining and entertainment uses in this area.