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Residents attack south-end plan 0

Bob Bruton

By Bob Bruton, Barrie Examiner

QMI AGENCY

QMI AGENCY

South-Barrie residents voiced their disapproval Monday to townhouses and eight-plexes in their single-family neighbourhood.

During a public meeting taking nearly two hours, about 30 people spoke against the proposed development at 461 Mapleton Ave.

The 101 residential units would add traffic and crime, cut safety for children and hurt property values in the area - city councillors heard.

"We need to put the safety of our children first, absolutely first," said Marlene Kane. "I'm all for growth, but let's grow safe and let's grow smart."

Her daughter, Nicole Kane, said she's a former St. Joan of Arc Catholic High School student and the traffic in this area is already bad.

"I can attest to how difficult it is to cross Mapleton," she said. "It isn't just (unsafe) for children, but for teenagers crossing the street."

Larry Black, who lives at the top of Mapleton, also said the street is dangerous now.

"Cars come up that hill very fast," he said. "That hill is already a risky one and you (the developer) are just going to add to it."

Many speakers said they moved to this area because it is a single-family neighbourhood, and don't want townhouses there because it could mean renters and absent landlords.

"Reconsider this plan and develop it into something that everyone in the area would find desirable," said Jennifer and Alastair McMurachy in a letter to the city, "such as additional single-detached homes, a library, commercial space or an additional soccer/rugby field.

"The building of eight-plexes is not what the safe and quiet area needs right now."

Residents also said there wouldn't be enough parking in this development and that congestion would only get worse in the area.

This five-acre property - located on the south side of Ardagh Road, west of Mapleton - is a former school site no longer needed by the Simcoe County District School Board for that use. The developer is a numbered Ontario company.

Its rezoning and Official Plan application will now be considered by the city's planning department, which will prepare a staff report. It's expected to be dealt with by Barrie councillors later this winter or in early spring.

Coun. Michael Prowse, who represents this part of Barrie, does not want the property to be medium or high-density residential.

But Coun. Alex Nuttall said townhouses do not necessarily mean more crime and renters who are bad neighbours, as some of the speakers Monday expressed.

"Be careful with your broad strokes about townhouses," he said.

City councils in Barrie have long dealt with the frustration of residents in new developments with planned school sites. They expect their children to be able to walk to school, then an education board decides the school is not needed.

The children are bussed to class instead, and more residential units are built on the former school site – adding additional people and vehicles to the area, especially if it's intensified development.

Those opposing this development have an online petition at

http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/deny-the-request-for-rezoning-of-461-mapleton-avenue-b.html.

There's also a Facebook page titled 'Residents Opposed to 461 Mapleton'.

City staff didn't recommended park use of this land when the education board made its decision not to build a school there. Its estimated purchase price of $1.5-$2 million would have virtually emptied the parkland reserve fund of $2.1 million at the time. A sports fields, landscaping, parking and other infrastructure costs could add another $1 million to the price tag.

Staff looking at building soccer and/or baseball fields there note soccer participants has dropped by 800 since 2010, and the city doesn't need any new ball fields until after 2019.

bob.bruton@sunmedia.ca

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