Development debate ends in temporary compromise for residents
BARRIE -- A debate over development in Barrie's south end may end in a tie, after a vote by city council on Monday night.
A developer hoped to build ten townhomes on a single-house plot of land at the corner of Essa Road and Athabasca Road, but for months residents living in the area have been begging the city to keep the neighbourhood the way it is.
Last week city councillors voted to stop the development altogether, but on Monday night city council had a change of heart and voted instead to have the developer draw up new plans, which would potentially address residents' concerns.
Since October, residents have made a passionate plea to stop the development. Close to 200 residents signed a petition, and several of them have spoken up at city hall. They argue the small plot of land, where one house currently sits, is too small to handle ten townhomes and the traffic that comes with it.
"When slowing down to turn into our driveway, we regularly get honked at, flipped off, yelled at and have been narrowly missed by people who have taken the corner too fast," resident Michael Saunders said to city council on Monday night.
They also spoke about a loss of privacy, with the development being too high, and trees being cut down.
"When we bought this house, we bought it to retire," resident Michael Campbell said emotionally from the podium inside council chambers. "It's surrounded by trees, security, privacy. That's being ripped away from us."
Darren Vella, with Innovative Planning Solutions, spoke on behalf of the developer, his client 2591451 Ontario Inc.
He said his client was willing to make changes, like reducing the number of townhomes to eight instead of ten, and the height of the development to two storeys instead of three. He asked councillors to reconsider their initial decision to stop the development and to allow changes to their application instead.
"Council, I would ask you to please reconsider the decision moving forward based on this change suggested by my client," he said.
His pleas were heard, and council voted to have the application revised and edited.
After the meeting, residents were cautiously optimistic about the changed vote.New
"I'm happy that the council has decided to at least let the developer try and make some accommodation," said Campbell. "My concern is I’m worried the developer has just proceeded to push everything through and is not taking into account what the community and the neighbourhood has asked for."
The development application will now go back to city staff, to be revised and potentially changed, to accommodate the residents’ concerns. City council will then vote on the new plans at a later date.