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Have your say on development plans at former fairgrounds

Ward councillor says public meeting on April 5 will allow residents to participate in the discussion and offer comments on proposed changes at the site

A public meeting will be held April 5 to discuss plans to build a massive residential and commercial development on the former Barrie fairgrounds at Essa Road and Highway 400.

The applications are for a rezoning, redesignation and draft plan of subdivision for 2,828 residential units in nine towers, ranging in height from 12 to 35 storeys, with integrated retail space along Essa Road, on this 55.3-acre site at 175 and 199 Essa Rd., along with 50 Wood St. 

Coun. Jim Harris, who represents this part of Barrie, had expressed interest in a neighbourhood meeting before a public meeting.

“The neighbourhood meeting is not required by the Planning Act,” he said. “I thought having another neighbourhood (meeting) would be of value, given the less formal nature. I find it creates a more comfortable and consultative environment for discussion.  

“Certainly, the public meeting will provide an opportunity for residents to participate in the discussion and offer comments on the proposed changes to this development plan,” Harris added. 

Of the total residential units being proposed, 2,407 would be condominiums, while 421 would be three-storey townhouses, some condos, some freehold — providing for one-, two- and three-bedroom options. There would be 31,775 square feet of retail space.

This property is located on the south side of Essa Road, extending north to Barrie Collingwood Railways tracks, east of Highway 400 and is currently vacant, except for Barrie Curling Club.

The rezoning application is from highway industrial and general commercial to residential multiple-dwelling second-density, open space and transition centre commercial, with site-specific special provisions.

An Official Plan (OP) amendment is to redesignate this property from Highway 400 industrial and general commercial to residential and open space, with a corresponding defined policy area for residential and commercial use.

And a draft plan of subdivision is proposed to create blocks of land required to further divide land through future applications for part lot control or draft plan of condominium.

These applications have been made by Greenworld Development/Digram Developments.

The Wednesday, April 5, 2023 public meeting is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. and is part of the affordability committee meeting. It will be held in a virtual forum with electronic participation and in person at Barrie City Hall, and live-streamed on the city’s YouTube channel.

The fairgrounds property was home to the Barrie Raceway, which opened in 1971 and was owned by the Barrie Agricultural Society. Afterwards, it was home to the Barrie Fair, which has since moved to the Essa Agriplex, near Thornton.

The fairgrounds have, during the intervening decades, been the projected site of various residential and commercial developments, even a university campus.