Urbanization Approaching Reality

On Wednesday, December 6, Council formally received a proposal for an eight-story condo with street-front retail. The development is proposed for the north side of Innisfil Beach Road, adjacent to Alcona Home Hardware and west of the corner plaza.

SeniorCondo

Development Proposal – 828 Innisfil Beach Road

The building would consist of eight floors and 80 residential units. Designed as an adult building for ‘seniors’ aged 55+, the condo units would consist of one and two bedroom layouts. The ground floor would provide a total of about 5,000 square feet of retail space along the street. Parking is situated behind the building in a lot with a landscaped perimeter. In a unique approach to snow management, a snow melter would be utilized to remove accumulations.

In some ways, watching the planning process play out in Innisfil is the municipal equivalent of watching paint dry. The final report of the Inspiring Innisfil Official Plan was released in February 2011. It advocated for an “urban core”. The design guidelines proposed multi-storey zoning in an Innisfil Beach Road commercial zone with retail situated at the street. More than six years later we are just beginning to see this concept take shape. Two other buildings are reaching completion near Adullam Ave., and a multi-storey rental building is expected to receive approval for the south side of Innisfil Beach Rd at the 25th Sideroad.

This development addresses several needs. It provides local accommodation for an aging population (a neighbor has reluctantly moved to Barrie recently); it fills a gap in the streetscape with more convenient local retail and encourages more activity (social and economic) on the street. The condo proposal has been working its way through the planning and approval process since May of 2016 and reached a final proposal of zoning bylaw amendments in November this year. The building proposal was received as ‘information only’. The development will require Council approval of some zoning bylaw amendments concerning height (8 instead of 7 stories) and small changes to setbacks. The developer’s plan comes back to Council for consideration in the spring.

Download PDF:

828 Innisfil Beach Road ZBA & OPA Presentation

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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

The Art of Public Art

It seems that any time someone tries to do anything new and innovative in Innisfil, it’s a bit like the “Running of the Bulls” – there’s a strong probability that you’ll get gored! Fellow blogger and former political candidate, Darren Durham, has been writing about Jig Rig, the sculpture being installed at InnPower’s new headquarters:

Innisfil Hydro Sculpture Altered, Darren Durham

I’ve written a couple of times vigorously defending the public art initiative so it’s best that you read his critical piece (link above). He makes some valid points and gets full marks for getting residents all riled up about ‘bureaucrats’. But seems to me, he totally misses the mark in (a) identifying what possibly went wrong, and (b) how we might fix ‘it’. Mr. Durham says he’s not against art and I believe him. So what exactly are people against? Who’s responsible? Where did they go wrong? How can we avoid controversy in the future? Continue reading

Some Thoughts on Green Space

Have you ever sensed that a group of random ideas was weaving itself into a larger fabric? I’ve had that feeling lately while thinking about some recent reading in the context of related events in Innisfil. It has to do with green space, how much we have, what it consists of, and questions like “How much should we have?”.

“Ontario’s Planning Act permits municipalities to require … either a maximum of 5% of residential land area (s. 42(1)) or a maximum of one hectare per 300 dwellings
(s. 42(3)) to a municipality for parks or other recreational purposes.”
(Neptis Foundation: “Density and changing standards for public facilities”)

Several examples come to mind of public outrage at the sudden razing of natural growth and treed areas, sometimes without permits, and sometimes on a property that was promoted as a ‘protected’ natural area. Sometimes, residents have banded together in defense of an individual tree as happened in Oakville and recently in Cookstown. Nature matters and people notice.

Chips

Alcona, 2010: “I thought I had a permit”

Continue reading

Inspiring Innisfil – the Path Divided

Here we go again. The owner of Home Hardware in Alcona is the latest to complain about the streetscape centre median on Innisfil Beach Road as being “unsafe”. Two years after completion, the objection rings hollow. He says there have been accidents. I shop there, on foot and by car, and I’m not aware of any. I’d have to see the statistics and accident reports. What charges were laid? Speeding? Following too close? Failing to yield? Making an improper turn?

But what we are now learning from newspaper reports is that Continue reading

Raised Centre Medians – Get Over It!

I’m tired of hearing recurring carping at Town Council about the raised planter medians installed as part of the streetscape urbanization of Innisfil Beach Road.  Over the term of the 3 year project it’s suffering the “death of a thousand cuts”. Our politicians’ vacillation, timidity and lack of vision is an embarrassment. I think we are fortunate to at least have the streetscape installed at the eastern end Continue reading