Springwater Township council has expressed its support for the proposed development of a comprehensive seniors campus on Bayfield Street, including long-term care and hospice services.
Acting for the Remington Group, planner Barry Morrison presented the proposal during a deputation to council Sept. 15, outlining the company’s plans for its 47-acre property at 727 Bayfield St., just outside the Barrie city limits.
If given final approval, the site would consist of a 160-bed long-term care facility, a 145-unit retirement home and 145 life-lease ambulatory apartments.
The concept, Morrison told BarrieToday, would allow for a complete transition of care for seniors from those who are ambulatory through to the retirement home needs and then again through to those in need of a nursing home type of facility.
The company’s long-term plan will also include a 50-bed hospice, a 20,000-square-foot medical complex with a multitude of services from doctor’s offices to physiotherapy, as well as a seniors’ community centre, which Morrison noted would be open to members of the community as well.
“Remington is the landowner and developer and they’ve held the site for about two decades. They’re of the view now that the site is ready for development,” said Morrison, noting the company believes the site will offer good proximity to the variety of amenities along the Bayfield Street corridor, and has the potential for a good transit link to downtown Barrie.
“It’s at the gateway to Springwater, so it has the potential to be an iconic entryway into the municipality," he added. "We see it as being a location that is very useful for not just the immediate area, but for Springwater as a whole, Simcoe County and even for Barrie.”
The site contains a conservation area at the back of the property and Morrison says the plans include preserving a large groundwater recharge area. Of the total 47 acres, roughly 28 acres of that is not contemplated for development. That being said, Morrison noted there will likely be some senior-oriented facilities included, such as bocce ball or shuffleboard courts and nature paths.
“This is the kind of transitional living community we are looking at building. It’s not for the 55-plus who are playing racquetball and living in bungalows. This is for people who are more elderly and require services, or think they will require services down the road," he said.
Springwater Township Mayor Don Allen said he does believe the municipality is in need of more seniors facilities in the future.
“Currently, we have the Elmvale Active Seniors Residence proceeding with a site plan for a seniors residence on Queen Street in Elmvale," Allen told BarrieToday. "There is also a seniors facility proposed for the Carson Road and Anne Street area."
However, the mayor also said he believes the proposed project on Bayfield Street includes some challenges, such as the lack of water and wastewater services, as well as high traffic volumes and the speed of traffic at the top of the hill on Bayfield Street going north.
“The fact that the proposed site would be in the green buffer zone between Barrie and Springwater is also of concern,” Allen added.
Morrison said the Remington Group’s mission at this point is simply to inform the township of its interest and ability in the hopes that council will take that into account when finalizing their revised Official Plan.
“We also need to talk to the City of Barrie about having services extended a few hundred feet to the site,” he said. “We had a fair amount of support, I think, in principle from the members of (township) council.
"Clearly, there is a very long approval route that has to be taken in order for this to ultimately proceed… and there will be many levels of government involved in order to bring it to fruition.”
Morrison said while they would hope for a short timeframe for the project, he anticipates it will be a very rigorous process and could take upwards of 10 years to complete.
“We always hope for an early timeline, but as these things go, government bureaucracies do take a lot of time to get through," he said. "If a miracle occurs, we’d be able to proceed in about five years, but it’s most likely that it will be 10 years.
"In reality, we have to get Barrie to agree to services, we have to get the official plans changed, zonings changed, probably a plan of subdivision done. Then the actual services have to be extended and the site has to be prepared,” Morrison added, noting that timeline would include the first phase. “A full build-out could take an additional 10 years.
“We are at the very preliminary stages … (and) we think we got a response that said the township could be interested in the project, so that will encourage the owners to proceed further.”