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Mayor highlights focus on expanding road capacity as council gives 2022 budget final approval

Tax increase comes in under the rate of inflation

Barrie Mayor Jeff Lehman highlighted infrastructure and the city’s contribution to a regional effort to build more affordable housing as councillors gave thumbs up on Monday to the 2022 operating ($392 million) and capital budget ($346 million).

The 2.94 per cent property tax increase works out to an increase of about $132 on a typical city home assessed at $362,740. This brings property taxes on that residence to just over $4,600 a year.

Council’s priority this year was keeping taxes low while residents continue to deal with the financial effects of the ongoing global pandemic, the city said in a statement.

Lehman noted that despite challenges brought on by the pandemic and rate of inflation, there were no service cuts. He said there were two new services approved, such as additional by-law enforcement on the issue of property standards and second suites, and the opening next year of the Holly library branch in the area of Mapleton Avenue and Essa Road. This will be the city’s third library and one the mayor noted that’s been asked for by people in the area for many years.

The city is also restoring funding to the Georgian College theatre at a cost of just over $200,000 a year. He said the decision was critically important to arts and culture groups in Barrie.

“You can’t have a city of our size without a theatre that allows our local groups to be able to perform and receive audiences from around the region,” said Lehman.

The mayor said he wanted to focus on expanding the capacity of roads.

“You know, for years, we’ve been behind the eight-ball in the south end,” said Lehman. “Everybody’s been frustrated by the traffic as the city has grown.”

He said there were two very important projects this year – Mapleview Drive East to Yonge Street – with completion over the next two years from Country Lane to Yonge, and Big Bay Point Road from Huronia to Bayview.

Lehman said by restoring the Dedicated Infrastructure Levy – at 0.75 per cent – the mayor noted the number one thing that residents ask of council on the capital side is to “please take better care of what you’ve got.”

“This year there are five kilometres of roads that will be replaced entirely and another 6.3 kilometres that are going to be resurfaced, and a series of other smaller resurfacing projects, as well.”

The mayor said it is a false statement to say the city isn’t doing more on housing.

While the County of Simcoe provides a number of services to Barrie such as paramedics, social housing, long-term care homes, among others, Lehman said the City of Barrie is contributing to the regional effort countywide to build more housing to support those in need and to provide the services that are needed for those in the community experiencing homelessness.

“It’s a total of $40 million this year. It’s an enormous increase over the past several years,” Lehman added.

Council also approved a 2.4 per cent increase in water rates and a 3.03 per cent increase in wastewater rates. For a typical Barrie home consuming 180 cubic metres of water annually, the water bill will increase by $8.75 and the wastewater bill will increase by $15.61. New rates come into effect in May of each year.

As for the 2.94 per cent tax increase and if it’s reasonable, Lehman said reasonable is always in the eye of the beholder.

“All of our residents probably have a subtly different take on it. For some, it’ll be reasonable, and for others, no increase is reasonable.” said the mayor. “But the fact is, we are able every year, I believe, to defend our choices and show people what they’re getting for their money.”

Highlights of the 2022 Budget include:

  • Funding to reopen the Georgian Theatre in 2022
  • Substantial funding increase to the County of Simcoe for housing and homelessness prevention
  • Four new by-law enforcement officers
  • Aerial spray to prevent LDD moths in city woodlots for 2022 and 2023
  • New permanent traffic calming measures to create safer roads
  • Construction of a new Bryne Drive connection from Harvie Road to north of Caplan Avenue
  • New library branch in the Holly area
  • Resurfacing 6.3 kms of roads and replacing 5 kms of roads
  • Bunkers Creek Culverts and Watercourse Improvements (Innisfil Street to Lakeshore Drive)
  • Continuation of Mapleview Drive East Improvements (Country Lane to Yonge Street)

City of Barrie homeowners can also learn how the City invested their 2021 tax dollars with a personalized, estimated receipt that provides a breakdown of how their money was used to fund City and partner services.

The 2022 Business Plan & Budget (before amendments) is available at barrie.ca/budget.