In the heart of Barrie’s vibrant Yonge Street, a potential wave of change is on the horizon with two proposed seven-storey residential buildings that could reshape the landscape. Designed to house 177 and 196 units, these structures could soon grace both sides of MacLaren Avenue, pending approval from city councillors. The discussions surrounding this transformation began in earnest at a recent general committee meeting.
Local resident James Fifield is among those expressing concern about the project’s implications. He finds the concept perplexing, given the rapid development being discussed along Yonge Street. “With all the development they’re talking about on Yonge Street, it seems frickin’ crazy to me. This is a 20-year-old residential neighbourhood here,” he remarked, clearly skeptical of the proposed changes. “I live on MacLaren, so I’m four houses in from that. They’re talking about an apartment on each side of the street.”
Fifield raises valid questions about parking and congestion, wondering where residents and visitors will park in this densely populated area. He is also apprehensive about the broader implications for south Barrie, noting the plans for more apartments along Yonge Street towards the Barrie South GO station. “You won’t be able to move around here,” he predicts. “That’s my biggest concern.”
Despite his concerns, Fifield feels that public opinion might be going unheard. “It’s outrageous. Doesn’t the public opinion count for anything anymore?” he asks, expressing his frustration.
Barrie Yonge Developments GP is behind the proposal, aiming to rezone 1.35 acres at 447, 449, 451, 453, and 455 Yonge from residential single-detached dwelling first density to mixed-use corridor with special provisions. These special provisions include adjustments like increased side- and rear-yard setbacks to create a harmonious transition to the surrounding low-density residential areas. The development also plans to feature ground-floor commercial space, adding a dynamic element to the area.
This ambitious project could also complement adjacent lands to the north, particularly at 410 and 481 Yonge St., where other mixed-use projects are in the works.
A similar transformation is planned for 1.63 acres at 427, 429, 431, 435, and 437 Yonge St., which boasts relatively flat terrain. Here, the rezoning application seeks to transition from residential single-detached dwelling first density to a mixed-use corridor with similar special provisions. Additionally, the project incorporates provisions for underground and surface parking, ensuring practicality for residents and visitors alike.
Coun. Jim Harris, representing this area of Barrie, acknowledges that the project’s plans have undergone significant changes in recent months. He highlights the ongoing communication with both staff and residents to address concerns and adapt to community feedback. With the release of the staff report and recommendations, he looks forward to a detailed review and a collaborative approach to make informed decisions for this application.
However, Fifield remains adamant that the development is out of place for this tranquil neighbourhood. He points out the construction of 120 townhomes across the street at Little Avenue and Yonge Street, emphasizing the area’s existing congestion. Trying to make a left turn at the end of his street, MacLaren, often results in a five-minute wait due to traffic.
The stretch of Yonge Street in question is undeniably poised for significant transformation. At 410 Yonge St. and 343 Little Ave., Mason Homes has plans for a 117-unit condominium townhouse development, currently under review by city planning staff.
Meanwhile, at 481 Yonge St., the city is evaluating a site-plan control application for a four-storey residential apartment building with 67 units.
Further south, at 505, 511, 515, and 533 Yonge St., a rezoning application has been submitted to construct four multi-residential buildings. These structures would range in height from eight to 12 storeys, accommodating commercial spaces as well. This ambitious project envisions a total of 400 residential units, supported by 469 parking spots and amenity spaces.
As the winds of change continue to sweep through Barrie’s Yonge Street, the future of this vibrant community hangs in the balance. Residents like Fifield are voicing their concerns, and the decisions made by city councillors will undoubtedly shape the destiny of this evolving neighbourhood.