Mapping the Future

The last major Official Plan, Inspiring Innisfil, was released in February 2011. It focused on a strategy of creating a stronger community identity, linking scattered neighbourhoods, focusing on development of an urban centre, developing tourism assets, business development and retention, and heritage preservation.

This past week saw the release of Innisfil’s latest Official Plan review, Our Place which will guide development and employment to 2031. It proposes the development of numerous public spaces, gathering places, and commercial clusters to enliven each of our neighbourhoods as places to meet, play, entertain and thrive. It proposes uses for Innisfil Heights employment lands.

I have not had a chance to review it thoroughly but will be discussing many of these ideas in future postings. I think that many Innisfil residents will be intrigued, if not excited, about many of the creative ideas suggested for their area.

To begin consultations, a public Open House is being held on Wednesday, November 1 from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. at Town Hall to inform residents and receive comments. This will be followed by a public meeting at Town Hall on Wednesday, November 8 at 6:30 p.m.

Residents should download the Official Plan documents to learn the specific proposals for their neighbourhood and for major Town locations such as libraries, Innisfil Beach Park and the Town municipal campus.

Our Place Official Plan Documents
email comments: ourplace@innisfil.ca
An online survey will also be made available on the Town website.

 

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Innisfil Opens a Walk-In Clinic

Improved access to local health care is another step closer with the opening of a walk-in health clinic scheduled to open on November 1 in temporary quarters at the Town Hall. Medical services will be provided by Barrie and Community Family Medicine Clinics (BCFMC) and Ontario Telemedicine Network. Clinic hours are posted online. The clinic services will eventually move to a permanent medical facility currently being planned.

Transportation to the walk-in clinic at Town Hall can be obtained through the Town’s pilot Uber transportation service with a fixed rate of $3.00 to and from the Town campus. For the first two weeks (Nov. 1 to 14) of clinic operation, Uber transportation to the clinic will be free with a promotional code through the Uber app.

The Town is a major contributor to the pending construction of a permanent “Health Hub” to be built on the Town ‘campus’. In a collaboration with Innisfil Health Partners and the Stroud Medical Centre, Innisfil will provide funding for a new 44,500 square foot facility that will include space for public meetings and education.

The Town of Innisfil is contributing an interest-only (2.75%) loan of $5.4 million as a partner in the project and a $10.1 million mortgage to finance construction. According to an earlier press report, the town will have “partial ownership and control of Innisfil Health Partners Inc. (IHP), which will operate the building”. The intention is to recover debenture costs through rental of “community space” in the Hub.

When operational, the Health Hub will offer access to family doctors, a walk-in clinic, x-ray and lab services, a pharmacy as well as an Ontario Telemedicine Network (OTN) video conferencing facility to allow secure consultation with medical specialists anywhere in Ontario.

The Health Hub is expected to alleviate the burden of lengthy travel and waiting times for Innisfil residents needing a wide variety of medical services. It will also be available to the seasonal population of Friday Harbour Resort.

Commercial at the Core

A new building under construction on the south side of Innisfil Beach Road is the first development to follow the design guidelines set out under the Inspiring Innisfil 2020 Official Plan. It is a multi-story, mixed-use building that fronts the sidewalk.

IBR02

The original signage on the property indicated it would be a medical building. The current signage only indicates leasing availability. It remains to be seen what final form this development will take and whether it is the start of a new approach to Alcona development or whether it will be an anomaly on the street.

Meanwhile, the development proposal for the Abendel property on the north side of Innisfil Beach Road seems to have stalled or collapsed. Old signage has been left to deteriorate. Nothing further has occurred since the additional purchase of Scotty’s Towing, which is boarded up. This was originally proposed to be yet another strip mall with the addition of a bank building and a fast-food franchise. Local resident opposition blocked earlier proposals for a residential tower and townhouses on part of the property.

Over at the 25th Sideroad and Innisfil Beach Road, the corner property has also been idle for the summer in spite of reported OMB approval for a proposed multi-story seniors condo with ground-floor retail and a banner proclaiming, “great things are happening”.

After the departure of Lakeside Treasures this summer, 1041 Innisfil Beach Road also sits idle. This property has a history of frequent tenant turnover. A rezoning notice appeared briefly this summer for a “one story commercial” building before being taken down.

At the western end of Alcona, a new housing tract is advancing toward the northern edge of the No Frills parking lot and a new building is taking shape near the supermarket, expected to be another fast-food franchise.

The Centreville plan in Stroud is advancing. Land severance has been approved for single detached housing on the north side of the property. Townhouses, a gas station, convenience store and strip mall form the rest of the project.  A ‘hold’ designation remains on actual construction until final design plans are approved.

In late 2011, the Retail Demand Study found that 2/3 of all resident expenditures were made outside of Innisfil. It suggested that with further residential growth, it would present an “expenditure potential” of over $400 million by 2021. More than 5 years later, it appears that potential for local shopping will be difficult to realize for many more years to come. For the uninitiated, it’s difficult to understand what hurdles are preventing an obvious opportunity from being realized.

Stroud Centreville Gets Another Look

After two public meetings, a proposed development for the main street of Stroud gets another look on Wednesday, June 14 at Town Hall. In this revised plan:

  • the number of townhouses is reduced from 107 to 94 on a slightly smaller space
  • 12 single detached homes are proposed for the western boundary
  • the size of the commercial blocks is reduced slightly
  • the site includes a gas bar and convenience store

Centreville3

A proposal to include several floors of apartments over the commercial units was rejected by local residents at previous public meetings. The single detached homes (instead of townhouses) are intended to buffer the transition from existing residential homes to the new development.

I think this revised plan continues to miss the mark for good planning. Completely removing apartments above the commercial space is a mistake. It would have been wiser to include this mixed-use option to offer more housing options for all age groups. Younger and older Innisfil residents don’t necessarily want, or can afford, a single family home. A retired individual that I know who is planning to move from their home is forced to look in Barrie, Alliston and Midland because there are no suitable apartment options in Innisfil. The objections from Stroud residents to more housing options is unreasonable and puzzling. Including these residents in the development would also make Stroud livelier and more economically viable.

The site plan itself is sadly disappointing in offering yet another parking-lot laden strip mall. I hardly think that a tired and outdated approach to make Stroud look like 1960s Mississauga or contemporary Brampton should get any serious consideration at all. It flies in the face of all the urban planning discussions that have taken place in Innisfil in the last 10 years.

The Implementation Plan for Inspiring Innisfil 2020 (Feb. 2011) stated the following objectives:  Continue reading

Complete Streets and Villages

A silo is all that remains of Stroud’s “last operating farm”. The farmhouse and agricultural buildings were demolished several years ago by a developer. The 5.2 hectare site is now the subject of a development proposal (Centreville by Daycore Venture Group Inc.) which consists of residential homes, commercial buildings and a gas station.

Residents were presented with a draft plan in December 2016. The first phase proposed 107 townhomes with communal septic. A second phase, contingent on provision of municipal services, would have added 86 more townhouses and a six story apartment/retail complex fronting on Yonge Street.

This proposal was heavily criticized, at the time, by local residents as inappropriate for their “quiet and peaceful” village. “We moved here for a rural urban feel”, said one. “You’re putting a city in a village. It’s just dumb. That’s the very reason a lot of people are getting out of Barrie and Alcona and into Stroud”, said another. Stroud consists mostly of single-family homes and has little growth because of the absence of municipal sewers. The developer’s proposal relies on sophisticated modular septic systems from BioNest based in Quebec.  Continue reading

Live, Work and Play

I’m just catching up to local news since being away from writing. At first glance, I’m impressed with the six story residential and commercial development being proposed for the 25th Sideroad and Innisfil Beach Road. It’s the first significant new construction that actually conforms to the Official Plan and the ‘Inspiring Innisfil’ urban design concept for Innisfil’s commercial core. It would add four or five new retail spaces to the street and add a mix of 55 living spaces (bachelor to 2 bedroom) to enliven the street. It might even inspire development, or redevelopment, of some other nearby commercial properties that need to be brought into the 21st century.

I have a hard time reconciling resident objections to the project since it has been clear for at least the last five years that Innisfil Beach Road will be developed as a retail area with zoning to allow street-front buildings up to six stories.

What I find more disappointing is Mayor Wauchope’s response as he tried to deflect responsibility to the county and provincial governments:

“The province is telling us this, the county is telling us this … we’re caught between a rock and a hard place.”  Continue reading