News Local

Area will have 60% of Barrie growth by 2031

Bob Bruton

By Bob Bruton, Barrie Examiner

 A public meeting was held Monday for an application to introduce zoning categories, permitted uses, definitions  and provisions to guide development for Barrie's Salem (above) and Hewitt's Secondary Plan areas. City of Barrie image.

A public meeting was held Monday for an application to introduce zoning categories, permitted uses, definitions and provisions to guide development for Barrie's Salem (above) and Hewitt's Secondary Plan areas. City of Barrie image.

The crystal ball mists have cleared for developing former Innisfil land in south-Barrie.

Residents, builders, developers, landowners and city councillors were at a public meeting Monday for a rezoning application for the Hewitt's and Salem Secondary Plans – where another 41,000 people are to live by 2031.

“This is really around the rules that will guide the form of housing and development in the area,” said Mayor Jeff Lehman. “The development that's coming is taking shape.”

This area is for 60% of Barrie's population growth to 2031; the remaining 40% will be within the city's old borders. About 5,700 units would be built in the Salem plan, 10,000 units in the Hewitt's plan

“It's important to note that the zoning bylaw being proposed will not zone any specific lands,” said Stephen Naylor, the city's planning and building director. “It will outline the permitted uses, regulations, definitions, etc.

“The landowners will have benefit of the zoning we're discussing tonight, so that they can design their amendments around the new uses.”

The rezoning would be a template to help guide future zoning and subdivision draft plan applications. It will create new or altered residential and mixed-use development categories.

Which means a diversity of single-family homes, townhomes, two-unit homes, apartments, garages set-back to homes with restricted door sizes, smaller car spaces, retail places and restrictions on commercial/recreational vehicles in residential areas.

“We're trying to develop more of a mix of housing within the same area to promote walkability,” Naylor said, noting this includes back-to-back townhouses, which don't exist now. “We have heard from the development industry and through the built form task force that back-to-back townhouses are a form of housing that they would like to pursue.”

Karen Hansen of Pratt Homes said she was impressed.

“There have been very diverse housing types that have been considered for this new area of (former Innisfil) land,” she said. “Back-to-back townhomes is something that hasn't been allowed in the city of Barrie for quite some time, or forever, and will bring more affordability in housing ownership and potentially rental housing to the city of Barrie, which is something that I think that the city needs and is very important - multiple, diverse housing types to bring more personality to our residential areas.”

The secondary plans are the result of a collaborative process between the city and area landowners.

But some residents of Country Club Estates, adjacent to the Hewitt's and Salem Secondary Plan areas, have voiced opposition.

They cite increased traffic congestion, the effects on wildlife and inadequate park services with the development and population growth.

Barrie's city clerk's office has a petition with 52 signatures opposing the Hewitt's Secondary Plan.

Coun. Sergio Morales, who represents this part of Barrie, said he was a little surprised by the opposition.

“It comes as a little bit of a shock that we get this letter,” Morales said. “Over 3,000 people were contacted, I had some calls from Courtney Crescent, Country Lane, around those areas ... but this, I didn't get a single call from Country Club Estates.”

But Lehman said some opposition is to be expected.

“We're starting to see, as I imagined all along we would, concern from area residents,” he said. “There has been a seven-year process to get to this date and actually many of those residents were involved. We saw turnout in excess of 200 people for some of the open houses during the secondary planning process that got to this point.

“Those much more granular and immediate concerns for people ... we are going to hear them from people who, right now, back onto a farmer's field and that farmer's field is going to be developed,” Lehman said. “We know this is going to be an issue, as the city begins to grow again.”

There were also more specific questions. Coun. Arif Khan asked why there will be no cul-de-sacs, as Barrie residents have proven they like living on them.

“It's primarily all about connectivity,” Naylor said. “We're designing the secondary plan on grid patterns and being able to have multiple routes to get through the subdivisions into our arterial and collector roads.”

He also said approximately one-third of the lands will be used for nothing other than natural heritage, as well as parks, schools, etc.

The Barrie-Innisfil Boundary Adjustment Act of 2009 transferred 5,770 acres from Innisfil to Barrie on Jan. 1, 2010. The Salem Secondary Plan and the Hewitt's Secondary Plan were both approved by Barrie city council in June of 2014.

A public meeting is just one step in Barrie's planning process. This application now goes to city planning staff for a report, and a recommendation, which then goes before councillors for approval, rejection or changes.

Naylor said he expects councillors will see a staff report in the first quarter of 2017, likely in February.  

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