After writing this blog for more than seven years, I was a little disappointed to read a recent article in the Innisfil Journal with the headline, “Realtors see future at opening of Barrie association’s headquarters”.
It really indicates how little has changed regardless of any advocacy for more moderate expansion, preservation of agricultural land and greater emphasis on sustainable development. The designation of Barrie as an ‘Urban Growth Centre’ under the provincial Places to Grow Act seems like little more than a license for sprawl. The province allowed Barrie to annex 2,300 hectares from Innisfil in 2010. At the time there was an hysterical campaign claiming that Barrie had “run out” of industrial land, implying some sort of economic crisis without annexation. Now, the justification has been reversed, saying it is to accommodate a population growth from 147,000 to 210,000 in 2031 within a pattern of development that is already familiar to Barrie residents.
So, from their new headquarters at 676 Veterans Dr., Barrie realtors were admiring the view of their future profits:
“You couldn’t find a more appropriate place … where realtors gather — right on the edge of Barrie’s future growth in the city’s south end. The location didn’t escape [Barrie] Mayor Jeff Lehman at the official opening … Pointing south to a fence and an open field you can see from the headquarters conference room, Lehman said the future lies just beyond the state-of-the art headquarters… “It’s symbolic. That fence was the south boundary of Barrie before annexation,” he said. “It’s awesome. You are literally looking at the future.”
Here’s what the future looks like: “The city [Barrie] is currently (January 2018) processing 18 applications and site plans in the Hewitt’s area. If built as planned, those developments will contain a total of about 5,000 lots. In Salem, three applications have been submitted, totalling more than 1,500 lots. “On the Salem side, we also have employment lands,” Barrie’s building services director said. “That’s a really important balance to the residential.”
An 86 acre parcel at the northwest corner of the intersection of McKay Road West and Veterans Drive will be developed into 839 residential units. It was rezoned from “agricultural to neighbourhood residential and mixed use, institutional education and open space”.
“… the Salem and Hewitt secondary plans are now complete and staff are currently working through 11 active development applications for the area, [Barrie’s] growth planning manager said. … Those applications cover more than 440 hectares and include about 7,560 residential units, as well as employment lands, mixed-use, natural and open space… [This] is how we’re going to manage growth applications and infrastructure planning for 30,000 people over the next 20 years,” Mayor Jeff Lehman said. “It’s basically how you’re planning … development for a small town.”
“Beginning in 2019, [Barrie’s] building department expects to process about 800 to 1,200 permits for new units annually for the next few years”