News release – from the City of Barrie
We’ve all had more bad news than we needed at the end of 2021. But, instead of looking at a blank screen where the World Juniors games should be, I decided I could focus instead on the year to come…which can only be better. As this rotten Omicron winter becomes spring and then summer, there’s a lot to look forward to, coming to you from the City of Barrie.
First, at the Council table, we’ll hear from the Housing Task Force, with new moves to fight homelessness, and recommendations for dramatic changes to get more affordable housing built in Barrie. Next will be the plan for a new Downtown Market, from the West End Revitalization Task Force. This idea has been floated for nearly ten years, and overwhelming public interest makes it an exciting opportunity to get off the ground in 2022. With a new bus building being built at Allandale GO Station this year, the repurposing of the downtown Terminal into a local food market that can be a new, permanent attraction in the west end, bringing tourists and residents alike to the west end, can finally proceed.
Third, the Performing Arts Task Force will come to Council with a plan for Barrie’s new concert hall. While COVID has meant most live events were on hold the past two years, the plan for this new facility is one of the most eagerly anticipated projects in years, with more than a thousand residents responding to an online survey to help shape the project.
Barrie’s third public library is the fourth thing to look forward to. In spring of this coming year, the Holly Branch library will open. Designed with the families of southwest Barrie in mind, and located a stone’s throw from the Holly Rec Centre at Mapleton/Essa, the branch will be the newest community building in our fast-growing city.
And last but not least…what I’m probably most looking forward to. The return of summer events in Central Ontario. With all the twists and turns of COVID, I know better than to claim this is a sure thing. But as of the time of writing, Omicron looks like it will be terrible, but brief. For us in Barrie, with any luck, that means Kempenfest, Boots and Hearts, Canada Day, Promenade Days, and the Barrie Fair; beaches, baseball tournaments, parks, patios. There is magic in summer events in Barrie; the energy of crowds, live music, fireworks and food vendors, fair games and midway rides. I miss it, and I imagine you do too. More than anything, I’m sure we all just want to return to normal in the year to come.
Hopefully, we’ll bring some of the lessons we’re still learning from COVID with us into 2022 – such as supporting local business, building more public spaces, better long-term care, and stronger supports for mental health.
My wish is for all of us to be able to enjoy all the things that make our city by the Bay an incredible place to live, with no more fear and no more worry. Let’s hope that’s not too much to ask! From my family to yours, the best for 2022.