A developer's plan to transform a key intersection in Barrie with a big hotel and parking garage will not come at the expense of a park.

City councillors approved study plans on Monday night they hope will bring a 19-storey hotel and underground parking garage to the waterfront.

The plan is called “Parks Over Parking” and involves using an old reservoir underneath Sam Cancilla Park.

“The proposal is to take that big underground tank, enlarge it a bit, level out the grade and use that for underground parking. It would allow us to potentially bring this hotel to the downtown,” says Barrie Mayor Jeff Lehman.

Lehman and the city hope the idea will bring people and businesses back to the downtown.

“A hotel does that in a variety of ways. Those staying can shop, dine, participate in the cultural experiences we have with arts and theatre as well as our festivals and events,” says Stephanie Schlichter, Barrie’s director of economic development.

But some still have concerns, especially in regards to traffic in the summer.

“It would block the lake definitely. All these people would be trying to get out of underground parking and into gridlock,” says resident Ken Selics.

The developer has yet to submit an application for what they want to do with the land because it remains in the preliminary stage.

City officials remain optimistic this will be the start of something in the downtown, saying shovels could hit the ground in the next three to five years.