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Barrie councillors leaning on city-owned properties to address housing shortfall

Barrie's former police station on Sperling Drive on Tues. Feb. 27, 2024 (Dana Roberts/CTV News). Barrie's former police station on Sperling Drive on Tues. Feb. 27, 2024 (Dana Roberts/CTV News).
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The City of Barrie is diving into its portfolio of properties as a way to address a current shortfall of housing.

As many municipalities look for creative solutions to address what many have called a housing crisis, the City of Barrie is looking to move quickly at bringing city-owned properties to market to be used for developments.

On Tuesday, the Affordability Committee hosted mandatory public meetings for the proposed changes to the three city-owned properties:

  • 48 Dean Avenue
  • 29 and 35 Sperling Drive
  • 50 Worsely Street

"We are in urgent need of units for young Barrie folks who have grown up here and should be able to purchase their home here," Mayor Alex Nuttall said to CTV News.

The City hired a consultant to do what is known as a highest- and best-use study for all three of the properties. The focus was to determine the type and size of development best suited for each property.

The Dean Avenue site near the City's Painswick Library branch could see a tower of up to 10 storeys. Staff are aware of existing residential neighbourhoods.

Over on Sperling Drive, the City has put up the property housing the former Barrie Police Station and its adjacent parking lot. The analysis found that a mixed-use development including office and residential space of up to 12 storeys would fit here.

However, given its proximity to the highway and the absence of residential neighbourhoods, the mayor hopes that the density here can change once a developer is found.

"I think the City of Barrie is in a position where we're trying to bring on housing so our young people are able to get into the housing market, and we're also trying to do it so that seniors have a place to downsize to," Nuttall said to CTV News.

The City has also put up a property on Worsley Street across from its downtown library branch, often known as the H-block. Staff suggest that this property could one day host two 33-storey towers.

On Tuesday, councillors heard from a few residents concerned about the proposed development along Dean Ave.

City staff aim to bring back a completed staff report with full recommendations for councillors to consider by the end of March.

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