Engage Barrie urging council to consider holding back on five percent of police funding

$2.8 million could go towards social programming and supporting local business

The city of Barrie is still crunching the numbers of its annual budget, but the grassroots group Engage Barrie is hoping to sway the final result.

In an open letter to council, the group is urging the city to reduce the police services budget by five percent, giving the city an extra 2.8 million bucks. this, based on data gleaned from the city’s online budget allocator tool. Engage Barrie says that money could go towards more pedestrian-friendly enhancements to city streets, increased supports for community gardens, public libraries, and youth services, among other social programming.

Engage Barrie’s letter to council points out added funding could go towards being more strict with developers about creating affordable housing units within the city, while insisting that these developers keep walkability, green psace, and community gathering areas top-of-mind when in the design phase.

Of the additional $2.8 million saved by reducing the police budget by 5 percent, Engage Barrie says some of that could go towards continuing to pedestrianize the city’s downtown core and make local businesses more attractive than big box stores.

RELATED: PROPOSED BARRIE POLICE BUDGET APPROACHES $57 MILLION, NEARLY TWO PERCENT HIGHER THAN LAST YEAR

The Barrie Police Service has floated a nearly 57 million dollar budget this year, a 1.95 percent increase over last. The service was asked by council to keep the 2021 budget increase under two percent, a target the service hit.

The vast majority of the police budget goes towards staffing, with some going to tech upgrades this year, including facilities and radios.