News Local

Little Lake seniors condo plan OK'd

Bob Bruton

By Bob Bruton, Barrie Examiner

Mark Wanzel Photo - Some residents are upset about a new seniors community - to be built near Little Lake - which was given the green light recently.

Mark Wanzel Photo - Some residents are upset about a new seniors community - to be built near Little Lake - which was given the green light recently.

A planned seniors community near Barrie's Little Lake has the green light, despite continued concerns from area residents.

City council has approved the triggers needed for a project of 510 seniors condo and retirement home units, as well as an office building geared to seniors, on nearly 11 acres of land south of Little Lake Drive, east of Duckworth Street and north of Highway 400.

"It will provide a lot of badly needed seniors housing in the community," said Mayor Jeff Lehman.

But Arnie Cheshire, who lives on Little Lake Drive, has concerns about the habitat or wildlife living on this property and the project's impact on a single-family neighbourhood.

He says some residents will attend a March 28 meeting with the developers, Richard Van Gustel and Brimanor Construction.

"It's for us to express our concerns," Cheshire said. "I don't know if they are going to be flexible at all.

"They (previously) didn't address any of our concerns."

Robert Lalonde, a Snowy Owl Crescent resident, worries about traffic in the area and whether this project is a good fit there.

"There are a lot of changes coming into that little area there," he said. "I'm not opposed to higher density development, I just don't know if that's the spot for it, being on the slope of Little Lake. There's got to be some environmental impact there, for sure."

Also impacting this area is the $44-million road and highway ramp reconstruction of Duckworth Street and Cundles Road, along with Highway 400 - slated to begin this year.

Residents raised concerns about traffic, density and environmental matters during a public meeting on this project in early December.

Coun. Doug Shipley, who represents this area, has said adequate parking has also been an issue.

"There was some concern from neighbours and residents of Ward 3 that we need some more parking," he said. "We don't want to have an issue with parking."

Ross Cotton, the city's policy planner, says there had only been one significant change to the developer's plans since the public meeting.

"Originally they were proposing the (office) building right at Duckworth Street, right at the street line, and on the revised concept plan, they've moved the building back about another 100 feet back from the road," he said.

Because of that the parking lot configuration has been changed. The building sizes remain the same, but there will be more parking spots.

This development would have 350 seniors' condo units, ranging in height from four to eight storeys and stretching from existing residential development to the 400.

The retirement home would be located on the far eastern portion of the property, with 160 units to be built in two phases and five storeys high. An office building of three to four storeys would be geared to seniors services with a pharmacy, physiotherapist, chiropractor, etc.

The office building would be built first - starting this year and taking a year to build. The retirement home would take 16-18 months to complete. The condos would be completed last.

This property - 13, 35 and 37 Little Lake Dr. and 503 Duckworth St. - has been redesignated in Barrie's Official Plan, rezoned, and had a subdivision and condominium plan approved to allow this project.

Cheshire said he doesn't want to take residents' concerns to the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB), which rules on contentious local government matters. He's been there before.

"We found they (the OMB) don't necessarily side with the developer, they side with development, regardless of the neighbourhood concerns," he said.

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