Places to Grow – in Barrie

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A public meeting tomorrow in Barrie (council chambers, 7:00 pm) is further proof that Ontario’s Places to Grow strategy to limit urban sprawl is a failure – at least in Simcoe County. It also confirms that Barrie is a city without boundaries and an insatiable appetite for greenfields.

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“The lands are designated Highway 400 Industrial/Business Park within the City’s Official Plan and are currently zoned Agriculture (AG) in accordance with Zoning Bylaw 054-04 (Innisfil). The owner has applied to amend the current zoning of the property to Highway 400 Industrial with Site Specific exceptions …” 

“The lands are currently zoned Agricultural General Zone (AG) and Environmental Protection (EP) (as per Town of Innisfil …). The owner has applied to amend the current Agricultural General Zone (AG) and Environmental Protection (EP) … to Residential Annexed (RA), Residential Multiple Annexed (RMA), Environmental Protection (EP), Mixed Use Corridor (MU2), Institutional Education (I-E) and Open Space (OS) to allow for the subdivision of 1,445 residential units, with a block for future commercial.”

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The public meeting will reveal the plans for placing 1,445 residences, 16 industrial ‘blocks’ and a commercial block on 318 acres (128 hectares) of land annexed from Innisfil. The industrial uses would be placed between Veteran’s Drive and Highway 400. The residential and commercial units would be built west of Veteran’s Drive. A plot of about 15 hectares on the western edge would be designated as “environmental protection”, a designation with little real meaning in practice.

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Barrie’s City Manager of growth planning told reporters, “A neighbourhood meeting was not held for these lands given the site’s isolated location and that the majority of the surrounding lands are owned by the applicant.” (Simcoe.com)

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Innisfil residents will recall that this “Watersands” development was being touted to Innisfil Council years ago as part of the town’s need for industrial development and employment. It was clear back then that any proposed industrial development would be the pretext for another residential subdivision. Since then, the lands were annexed by Barrie, again under the pretext of being urgently needed for industrial development. And Watersands is able to more easily move on with the City of Barrie, under its current designation as a “Regional Growth” centre. The province has specifically excluded residential development from Innisfil Heights, the designated industrial zone in Innisfil … but for how long?

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