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Development proposal draws inspiration from old Victoria School annex

'We understand the importance of this site and the need to focus on architectural fit,' said the agent for the developer of 400 Maple Street
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The developer, Georgian Communities, is proposing these designs and layout for the Maple Street facing side of the property at 400 Maple Street.

Collingwood residents called into a virtual council meeting to express support for a development proposed on the Victoria Annex site, many relieved to see something “finally” being done on the property. 

Council hosted a public meeting on Jan. 25 because the developer is requesting a zoning bylaw amendment for the Maple Street property to allow the proposed layout of 19 units, including two in the historic Victoria school annex building. The site already allows for up to 19 units, but there were some specific zoning rules applied based on a previous development application. 

The current developer, Maple Street Limited Partnership (Georgian Communities) is proposing four single-detached dwellings, ten semi-detached units, three townhouse units, and two units inside the annex building. 

The brick structure still standing on the property was built in 1895 and was designated of cultural heritage interest by the town. Previous owners have applied for a demolition permit but were turned down by the town.

“The annex has been central to the planning,” said Henry Cary, the author of the heritage impact assessment commissioned by the current developer of the property. “It’s really become a centrepiece of the development … and the surrounding development will be sympathetic in form and so complementary to the annex itself.” 

The developer’s plans took into consideration surrounding homes that had heritage characteristics to create the designs for the homes proposed for the site. 

“We understand the importance of this site and the need to focus on architectural fit,” said Collin Travis, agent for the applicant. “Of primacy is the retention and respect of the heritage designation of the annex.” 

The plan includes an access road off Maple Street that will also provide views of the heritage building from the street. 

Residents who called in for the public meeting asked for information on how much green space would be included in the development, what the drainage plans are for the property, and whether a higher density plan could be considered in the interest of attainable housing. 

Neither the developer nor town staff addressed public questions during the meeting, but Mayor Brian Saunderson said there would be a chance to answer the inquiries when the matter comes back to council as a staff report. 

Margaret Mooy, a member of the local chapter of Architectural Conservancy Ontario, said the group was pleased to see concrete plans moving forward on this site, and efforts by the new owners to board up broken windows and address other repairs. 

“We’re pleased with the new design and building the coach house as a separate unit,” said Mooy. “The improved sight lines to Maple Street are more respective of the heritage building.” 

Jay Beech attended the virtual meeting as a representative of Georgian Communities. 

“We’re committed to this project and we’re quite proud of it,” he said. 

No decisions were made at the Jan. 25 meeting, which was to receive public comments for a staff report coming to council at a future meeting. For more information about the development planned at 400 Maple Street, including several studies and reports on issues such as tree planting, heritage impact, architecture, stormwater management, servicing and geotechnical investigations, visit the town website.

You can still submit comments in writing to the town about the development by emailing planning@collingwood.ca.