Published May 9, 2024

Youth appeal as Barrie's Sea Cadets relocation and sports field gets nod from city council

There was a youthful appearance at Barrie city council's general committee meeting on Wednesday night that was not overlooked by several councillors during debate about the development of a multi-use turf sports facility for soccer, football, lacrosse and rugby at Allandale Station Park and moving the Sea Cadets to a new home at the Southshore Centre.

Young soccer players and Sea Cadets crowded the chamber to witness council vote unanimously in favour of both projects, which carry a combined cost of $9 million. Also in the audience were people opposed to the sports field.

There is a petition circulating in opposition to the sports field over concerns the development will impact wildlife, the environment and lead to increased congestion and noise pollution in nearby residential areas.

"We must protect south shore/Allandale Park from becoming another casualty in our rush towards urban development," the petition states.

The Sea Cadets are located at the bottom of Bayfield Street near the transient docks, and the organization has spent decades looking for a new home. In fact, Mayor Alex Nuttall said that when he became a city councillor in 2006, the first committee he was asked to sit on was the Sea Cadet relocation committee.

"As you can see, we didn't do a very good job relocating the Sea Cadets between 2006 and today." he said.

Nuttall added that when he sat on the committee the request for a new location was already about 25 years old.

Coun. Sergio Morales said further delay doesn't make sense.

"I think we just need to stop holding ourselves back. It shouldn't have taken 18 years since then-Coun. Nuttall was appointed to the Sea Cadets relocation committee to get to this point and it shouldn't take another 18 years for us to do anything about this."

Under the plan, an addition will be added to the lower portion of the Southshore Centre to accommodate the Sea Cadets.

Coun. Bryn Hamilton described the facility where the Sea Cadets are currently located as "nothing to look at," calling the structure "decrepit" and "ancient."

"It's embarrassing that we have our youth in this building, and there's just a desperate need to relocate them."

The mayor and several councillors also came back to the issue of safety and the lack of it where the Sea Cadets currently set sail from, with the transient docks nearby and the marina not too far from there.

The Sea Cadets would also make use of the sports field for parades and other events.

Deputy Mayor Robert Thompson said what was being proposed was adding facilities for youth. He suggested some of the people opposed to the sports field had become obstructionists who don't want change.

"I understand some people's concerns, and I had some great conversations with Ward 8 residents, but I think it's an overreach. They're trying to push an agenda that doesn't exist. This is for young kids."

Coun. Gary Harvey reminded everyone that taxpayers were not being asked to spring for the sports field.

"This isn't going to hit anyone's tax bill, it's all come from reserves."

A staff report said the property is zoned and designated open space, which allows for a multi-purpose sports field.

Issues dealing with the environment were also addressed in the report to council. It said a stand of Vimy Ridge oak trees were planted in Allandale Station Park in 2017 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge. The young trees are descendants of acorns gathered after the battle and are significant to the Military Heritage Park.

"The trees can be relocated closer to the Military Heritage Park to accommodate a proposed multi-use field."

As well, the city intends to plant 1,000 trees around the waterfront over ten years beginning in 2024.

There will be at least 35 parking spaces with an option to expand to 70 spaces.

"It is important to note that any site parking provided in Allandale Station Park will be a paid parking lot in compliance with the 2020 Parking Strategy," according to the staff report. "This parking lot will be available for use by all visitors to the waterfront (whether sports, Sea Cadets or recreational) on a first-come, first-serve basis."

The report also indicated that light pollution from the field is considered a low-risk impact to adjacent residential neighbourhoods due to the buffers provided by the surrounding park woodlot, Lakeshore Drive and GO train railway corridor.

The annual cost to maintain the turf is estimated at just over $37,000, and the timeline to have the field ready for sports is August 2025.

Both projects will be considered for final approval at city council's meeting on May 15.

Banner image supplied - City of Barrie

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