Springwater Township council needed less than five minutes at Wednesday night’s council meeting to unanimously pass a motion supporting the Remington Group’s planned medical campus for seniors on Bayfield Street, just beyond Barrie’s northern boundary.
“I definitely think our council should endorse this,” said Coun. Phil Fisher. “It’s a great use of the land up on top of Bayfield Street. It creates jobs and it contributes to our tax base.”
As the 727 Bayfield St. N. property is located outside of a settlement area and does not have access to municipal servicing, township staff say they were unable to support the typical land-use applications required for this type of proposal.
In response, the Remington Group prepared an application under the township’s minister’s zoning order (MZO) request protocol seeking council support in order to apply to the province for an MZO.
While the minister does not require council’s support to issue an MZO, council’s endorsement of a request can assist the minister in prioritizing projects that have political support.
According to the report, prepared by senior township planner Chris Russell, the Remington Group has completed the requirements of the township’s MZO protocol by providing written notice to landowners within 120 metres of the proposed project, posting a general notice of the application in a local newspaper, and by hosting a public information centre (PIC) meeting to obtain public comments.
“I’m happy to see this process actually did provide for public input,” said Deputy Mayor George Cabral. “I read some of the comments from the public and I found the vast majority of them to be quite positive.”
The Remington Group’s proposal is for a seniors-related medical campus, including long-term care facilities, retirement residences, hospice care, life leases and associated medical office and retail opportunities.
The original proposal, presented during a deputation to council on Sept. 15, 2021, outlined the company’s plans for its 47-acre property on the east side of Bayfield Street. It consisted of a 160-bed long-term care facility, a 145-unit retirement home, 145 life-lease ambulatory apartments and a 50-bed hospice.
It also included a 20,000-square-foot medical complex with services ranging from offices to physiotherapy, as well as a seniors’ community centre.
The current proposal is slightly modified and includes a total of 471 units devoted to seniors' care — 145 retirement home units, 160 long-term care units, 115 life-lease apartments and 51 hospice care units.
The proposal would include a total of 437,000 sq. ft. of institutional floor area across five multi-storey buildings, a two-storey medical office, pharmacy and community centre.
The site contains a conservation area at the back of the property and roughly half (28 acres) of the site is not being considered for development.
“It fits in very, very well with the MZO process, which is geared specifically at the higher end for housing,” said Cabral. “And it not only provides seniors’ housing but also eventually palliative care and medical facilities on site.
"I’m happy to support this,” he added.
The City of Barrie and Ainley Group, an engineering and planning firm, have submitted their comments on the proposal, most of which are focused on servicing the site (water, wastewater, sewers, etc), traffic on Bayfield Street, emergency access as well as roads and sidewalks inside the development area.
Staff advised council the developers still have a number of fundamental and technical engineering considerations that need to be addressed, including securing full municipal servicing, examining the possibility of a developer-led servicing initiative or the consideration of servicing through a cross-border agreement with the City of Barrie.
The developers also need to develop and secure an appropriate stormwater outlet, subject to the satisfaction of the municipality and Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority and they need to develop an appropriate signalized intersection to Bayfield Street, subject to the satisfaction of the Ministry of Transportation.
If the province provides an MZO approval for the project, the developer would still need to supply the township with a detailed site-plan control application that would provide technical details for the noted engineering considerations and would include details such as phasing, any additional fire suppression measures, architectural controls and securities for the township.