Province invests nearly $30 million to new Barrie Y project downtown

City and Y in talks with developer over concerns about safe consumption site

The Ontario government has committed $29.9 million to the new Barrie YMCA.

The new community hub is to be built on the former Barrie Central Collegiate property downtown with a timeline of next year to get a shovel in the ground.

YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka President and CEO Jill Tettmann looks at the construction vehicles on the former Barrie Central Collegiate (BCC) property and says she is not nervous or concerned the project won’t happen

There is a fly in the ointment that Tettmann says the YMCA and city is working through with the developer.

Waterloo-based HIP Developments said in early June that it’s continued investment in its multi-use development at the former BCC and neighbouring Prince of Wales elementary school would not proceed until there was further consultation.

President Scott Higgins claims the city did not include HIP in its discussions regarding the location of a safe consumption site. The city has chosen a property on Innisfil Street.

Tettmann says a lot of people know the Y as being a place for gym and swim.

“We are so much more than that. This project is about being more of a centre of community than it is about being a health, fitness and aquatics centre,” she said.

“The focus of this project is to support youth both through a youth hub and bringing our youth and employment services to this centre.”

L – R: George Cornell, County of Simcoe Warden, Jill Tettmann, CEO & President of Simcoe Muskoka YMCA, Doug Downey, MPP for Barrie-Springwater-Oro-Medonte, Andrea Khanjin, MPP for Barrie-Innisfil

Tettmann says the facility will also have the first stand-alone youth transitional housing in Simcoe County, in collaboration with Youth Haven.

“It’s going to be a centre where people come to get a sense of belonging and not necessarily just come to work out.”

There will also be a child care centre on the second floor and an indoor and outdoor playground. The cardio and cancer rehabilitation program in conjunction with Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre, which was at the YMCA’s old Grove Street location and moved to Innisfil, will be brought back.

The money announced by the province on Monday adds up to 75% of the $40 million project cost. More than $7 million has been pledged by donors and fund supporters, and there is also cash from the sale of the Grove Street site. A capital campaign is in the works.

“The County of Simcoe has donated $2.5 million to support child care and to support youth transitional housing. To date, we have no commitment from the City of Barrie.”

Tettmann says the Y will be seeking support from the city.

“The importance of this facility to our downtown cannot be understated,” said Doug Downey, MPP for Barrie-Springwater-Oro-Medonte. “This new YMCA Hub will reclaim the downtown core as a space dedicated to families and youth.”

The 77,000 square foot facility at the corner of Dunlop and Bradford is expected to be completed about two-and-a-half years after the shovel goes into the ground.

“This new hub will not only accelerate our region’s post-COVID economic recovery through the creation of many jobs for the people of Barrie, it will also provide support for our youth through outreach and transitional housing, secure more child care spaces for working parents, and strengthen our community by promoting healthy active lifestyles through fitness programs,” said Andrea Khanjin, MPP for Barrie-Innisfil.

Tettmann says the whole project has been at play and in discussion for 15 years.

Banner picture: Former Barrie Central Collegiate property and future site of new Barrie YMCA