Downtown highrise developers could have deals cooking with city

‘The city is working with the developer to ensure that this important development, which is a key part of our downtown revitalization, continues on schedule,’ Ward 2 councillor says of Dunlop West project

The cards continue to fall into place for one of downtown Barrie’s tallest residential developments.

City councillors will consider a motion Wednesday night authorizing its legal staff to negotiate and register limiting distance and encroachment agreements with Barrie Waterfront Developments Holdings, which is building Debut Waterfront Residences at 55 Dunlop St. W.

One agreement will establish a limiting distance area on 24 Maple St., the current Barrie Transit Terminal, where no new building or structure may be built within five metres of the north property line alongside 55 Dunlop, subject to the chief building official’s approval.

The other agreement allows for a minimal encroachment onto city property to facilitate canopies over the entrances to the site, subject to the transit and parking strategy director’s approval.

Debut Waterfront Residences is to be a mixed-use, highrise development of two 32-storey residential towers with 495 units, in two phases, including a six-storey podium, with ground-floor retail/commercial uses and parking on Levels 2 to 6. The development also includes a pedestrian arcade that will connect the Dunlop Street frontage with the existing transit terminal and waterfront.

“The limited distance and encroachment serve both the interests of the city and the developers,” said Coun. Craig Nixon, who represents Barrie’s downtown. “The intent of the limiting agreement is to set out where future development could be feasible, while at the same time allowing this signature development to be completed ensuring we respect open spaces and pedestrian access through the area.”

The Ward 2 councillor said the encroachment agreements are ‘very minor’ and are part of the city’s regular planning process.

“The city is working with the developer to ensure that this important development, which is a key part of our downtown revitalization, continues on schedule with a goal of improving the entire area, including the city’s site,” Nixon said. “(It’s) the ideal time to determine if a limited agreement is appropriate before any other planning is done on the city’s property, which is being considered for the permanent market.”

The previous city council endorsed, in principle, the concept of a Barrie Bayside Market Area, which is centred around the conversion of the existing transit terminal on Maple Avenue to a year-round market, including a community commercial kitchen, and the construction of a new building of at least 10,000 square feet nearby to house the Barrie Farmers’ Market. The goal would be for it to open to the public in 2024.

Its estimated total cost is $29 million to $32 million during 13 to 15 years for the permanent market, Barrie Farmers’ Market and three or four additional buildings in the area, plus facilities such as a skating trail and artisans village, along with the costs associated with providing Barrie Police Services with a new downtown home.

Operating costs for the market project are estimated to be about $550,000 annually, but the market could operate on a break-even basis. The city’s portion of the money would likely come from Barrie’s reinvestment reserve, which is funded by Barrie’s Alectra dividends and meant for community projects. It’s expected there would also be federal and provincial money, especially for the farmers’ market building.

Completion of the Allandale Transit Mobility Hub would be required before any conversion or construction of the existing transit terminal. The site works and design for the Essa Road hub are well underway. However, the construction of this project was delayed due to lags in Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program (ICIP) funding approvals, as well as inflationary impacts on the project cost. Staff are currently awaiting further ICIP approvals before beginning the actual construction of the building. Other necessary pre-construction work continues.

And a letter from the Barrie Farmers’ Market (BFM) says it would prefer staying at Barrie City Hall instead of being part of the planned permanent market project on Maple Avenue.

As for the limiting distance and encroachment agreements, Barrie Waterfront Developments Holdings would pay the city $10,000 as compensation for constraining municipally owned land, an administration fee of $600 to fully recover the cost of city staff time for preparing the limiting distance agreement, the city’s standard encroachment application fee of $525 and annual encroachment fees of $68.25 for each encroachment onto municipal land, the city’s costs for preparing any reference plans required to delineate the land, subject to the limiting distance or encroachment agreements and to provide insurance for any encroachments over city property.

If approved by general committee at its meeting Wednesday night, city council could consider final approval of this motion Feb. 1.