Good evening Mayor Lehman, members of Council, Staff, and the public here this evening. My name is Robb Meier and I have lived at 110 Napier St for over a decade.
This is a responsible and exciting development proposal for our city. It is on a transit route, it’s connected to the north shore trail and it has a plethora of amenities within 200m including groceries, pharmacy, restaurants, gasoline and Tim Horton’s.
There has been a lot of discussion that these types of intensification projects are being driven by greedy developers….the fact of the matter is our population and density targets are set by the Province. This is a direct quote ‘target densities for these areas are not currently being met.. All infill intensification opportunities should also be considered to promote a complete community and meet the targets identified for the City.’
For far too long, this Council continue to rule against any kind of real and necessary intensification. To see this session begin the same way is an incredible disappointment. Last session ended on a terrible low, when Council chose to approve a reduction in density for a development being built right beside the south end GO Station. Recently announced updated Provincial targets indicate any development near GO Stations must achieve an intensity of 150 residents and jobs per hectare.
It seems as though Council are completely unaware of the newly updated Provincially mandated intensification targets for the Greater Golden Horseshoe area. There are some significant changes which came into affect on July 1 which affect Barrie.
The greenfield density requirements have been significantly raised to 80 residents and jobs per hectare. Important to note that the City have been planning for, and have already approved 3 plans for subdivision that are at only 50 residents and jobs per hectare. Our own Official plan is under-review right now, and respectfully once that process is complete you will have a document that is worthwhile to reference to, the current one is too far behind the recently updated Provincial demands.
These changes both mean that ANY development occurring within the delineated built up area, or the south-end lands must be hitting much greater targets than we’re used to. We can not continue to disallow signifiant developments because 40 or 50 vocal neighbours get up in arms. In this time of unprecedented property value increases, it’s quite rich to hear people offer concerns of property value impacts due to additional development.
Based on some rough math this development represents 215 units, or about 2.7% of what’s needed to be built outside the UGC within the delineated built up area by 2031.
This may only be ‘just one building’, but the pattern in Barrie is nowhere close to meeting these targets. As mentioned last week, the opportunity cost of not building these units will be costly to the renters in the City of Barrie. We already have a well, and nationally acknowledged rental crisis in Barrie. The simple fact is that any more units which come on stream will provide some degree of relief, no matter what. There are not many firms who are building rental compared to ownership. The city is not able to mandate housing tenure and you have very few tools to achieve more and much needed rental housing. Council should be embracing opportunities such as this to provide more rental housing.
To speak directly to concerns that come up from the local residents time and time again, there will definitely be an increase in traffic, but that will come regardless of where the development is located. If you consider the amenities available in this area, as more people come to the City this is inevitable.
Speaking to this proposal in particular, The parking study shows that there is sufficient parking to accommodate the development. The site currently has 10 visitor parking spaces and the new development will provide 79. This means that for a 116% increase in residential units, they are providing a 790% increase in visitor parking. Concerns with overflow parking are completely unfounded. The local parking situation will actually improve as a result of the proposed development.
As the City grows, we need to find places to increase density. The local road network can accommodate the traffic from this development, so from a density location perspective, it is appropriate. Furthermore, and perhaps more importantly, the location of this building would allow for lower trip generation per unit than in other locations, since it is so well serviced by local amenities, transit and AT routes.
An expert has said that the proposed development will not produce any traffic or parking related issues and your own in-house experts at the City have agreed. It is irrational for Council to vote against this application based on “overcrowding” or “congestion” when those specific items have been explicitly addressed by the experts.
Last week, Councillor Ainsworth was incredibly passionate, which is worthy of praise, however many points made were simply non-factual- an example: “.. this proposed development could add 400 people or more and who really knows how many vehicles” – the traffic engineer is telling you how many vehicles and the impact. That is their job. Why ask them to complete a study if you are going to discount what they say when it is not what you want to hear? I get that residents make these emotional arguments, but Council should be making their decisions based on facts and data. You can all do better.
Speaking very briefly to the mention of tree loss, quite frankly it’s nobodies business if I want to cut down trees on my own property. The developer is not asking to cut down trees anywhere but on their own lands. This is not an issue deserving of Council’s focus.
I understand that upset residents is a concern of Council, but there seems to be no weight placed on the 400 future residents, as Councillor Ainsworth suggested, who are silently in favour of the application.
It appears that Council is more inclined to push back when there is a “big” turnout. I would say that there might have been 50 people in attendance last week, which might constitute 40 houses in the ward? The proposed development is 215 units, so theoretically there could be something like 365-400 potential voters in the new building alone who would be in favour of the development.
Council spent a lot of time focussed on affordable housing last week. I suspect that none of the local residents have been pushing for this alternative, although it would generate significantly less traffic and parking, which are two of the major concerns.
Since traffic, transit, parking, sewage, water and stormwater and parkland/greenspace can be shown to be appropriate using approved technical methodology accepted in development applications across the City and Province, then what is meant by overcrowded, or that this neighbourhood ‘has done enough’? Views into other yards, removal of trees and shadows are not things that would be changed by conforming with the zoning by-law. The set-back and height exemptions are very minor changes with negligible impact on the neighbourhood. They certainly cannot have an impact on all the residents opposed to the development.
Complete Community – Bonnie suggests this neighbourhood is already a complete community, that is not a reason to disallow this development, there is the space, City services and transportation infrastructure available. Never mind what a luxury it would be to live within such close proximity to so many amenities, services, park-space and beach access. Something many renters do not have today. If we take a further step back and recognize the number of people in our community who are aging. As some people age, mobility becomes a problem, stairs are hard, bathtubs are difficult, etc etc. A new development today will meet or exceed current AODA requirements, which means this building will be accessible and a potentially great place for your very own loved ones to reside in.
In closing, it was questioned what benefits there are to the City? $6million in dev fees and cash in lieu, tax gains, transit supportive population density and more accessible, rental units available for everyone. I strongly suggest to each one of you, that these benefits FAR outweigh the perceived losses of privacy, shade and parking space to the few local residents who live nearby. It is grossly irresponsible for Council to vote to maintain the status quo, and is really only passing the buck to someone else’s backyard. Remember we need tp build at least 37 of these outside the urban growth centre by 2031. Or we can let this go to the OMB, cost us hundreds of thousands, to very likely see the building built, perhaps even larger in two or three years. We have needs now for this type of housing.
Finally, I would like to ask Council to reconsider your position, and instead of supporting the motion before you this evening that you support the professional Staff recommended motion presented last week.
Thank you for your time, I’m happy to take any questions you have.