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Harmony Village's Revamped Plan - Barrie, Ontario 2014

Blog by Matthew & Robert Johnston | March 28th, 2014

Plans for a somewhat smaller Harmony Village were unveiled to a full house Wednesday afternoon at Barrie's Southshore Centre.

What was a five-tower development of 22-31 storeys and 1,255 units in highrises and townhouses now becomes seven towers ranging from eight to 25 storeys and 1,170 residential units.

Reaction was mixed Wednesday to the new Harmony Village plans for 8.6 acres at 51-83 Bradford St. and 20 Checkley St.

“I think it's too many people, too crowded here,” said Louis Dyke, who lives in the nearby Nautica condo tower on Ellen Street. “It's too dense in such an area. The traffic will be awful. This is too small a place for the development.”

But Mary-Ann Kotylak from Keswick came to the meeting because she might be interested in living at Harmony Village.

“This one looks like a great community to live in,” she said. “It looks like its impact will be less on people. It doesn't take away their view or their sunshine.”

Wednesday's presentation by City Core and Fortress Real developments included the results of a shadow impact study.

Harmony Village is also to include restaurants and cafes facing Kempenfelt Drive, a hotel with 152 rooms and a grocery store.

The latter is a concern for Longman Chen, who owns Choice Variety on nearby Victoria Street.

“The new grocery store in this development will cause us immense problems,” he said. “It has the potential of putting us out of business.

“They (the developers) have no regard for existing businesses and people. That's what concerns me most.”

The new Harmony Village plan still requires Barrie city council approval.

At a public meeting last September, the former Harmony Village plans were presented to residents and councillors – but were not well-received by either.

The developers have said they took that feedback to heart.

“We listened, and we apologize,” said Rob Spanier, of LiveWorkLearnPlay, a development partner specializing in mixed-use community-based real estate projects. “We learned some valuable lessons.”

“We started at the ground and worked up,” said Andrew McNeill, vice-president of LiveWorkLearnPlay.

Coun. Lynn Strachan, who represents this part of Barrie, noted there was considerable displeasure expressed with the former plans, but said this one is better.

“This is a start, a way that we can begin the conversation,” she said.

Strachan noted it includes enhancing the Bunker's Creek area and revitalizing Bradford Street.

“It's a beautifully paved road, but that's about all it is at this time,” she said.

The revised Harmony Village plans also include a new road between Bradford Street and Lakeshore Drive, a new street between Bradford and Checkley Street, and a pedestrian path between Checkley and Lakeshore Drive to better connect people to Barrie's waterfront.

The current developers acquired this property from the proponents of Blue Simcoe Development, a project which was to include towers of 24 and 25 storeys, and 595 residential units.

This property is currently zoned transition centre commercial and environmental protection, which is site specific for the former development plan.

The developers want to amend Zoning By-law 2009-141 to create a new site-specific zoning bylaw to reflect its development plans.

Whether city planners, and council, decide if the 25-storey towers planned for Harmony Village can be relocated from where they were allowed for Blue Simcoe will be determined once another public meeting is held.

It's expected in early summer.