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Barrie councillors moving ahead with lobbyist registry

Barrie city councillors are moving ahead with a plan to keep track of people pressuring local politicians.

Earlier this term, Mayor Alex Nuttall first brought forth the motion to create a lobbyist registry. The mayor, who has seen such programs work during his time as a federal MP, says it's critical to operate transparently.

"I'm going to be the most lobbied person in the City of Barrie," Mayor Alex Nuttall said to CTV News. "So what I'm doing is I'm creating transparency and accountability around myself and those who are trying to influence me. I think that that's really important for people to understand."

Over the last few months, staff drafted a report on the idea, which was brought to general committee on Wednesday. Once in place, all lobbyists would be required to register those discussions with the city, which would be available through a publicly accessible database.

"If somebody doesn't want you to know that they are trying to influence policy, it's probably not for the public good," Nuttall said. "But if they are willing to put their name on a piece of paper and sign it, it's probably from their point of view for the public good."

The idea gained widespread support from council, with Deputy Mayor Robert Thomson bringing forth an amendment to add special interest groups to the list of defined lobbyists to create an equal system.

It is expected to be implemented in January 2024, giving the city's IT department time to develop the system.

City councillors also moved forward a motion first adopted during a sub-committee meeting to add a second day every week for seniors to ride the transit system for free.

Currently, seniors can ride free on Thursdays, but city staff have been requested to implement a second day per week for free transit. This would be in lieu of offering free rides throughout the entire month of June, which is senior's month.

"I think it's a small thing that can have a very positive impact on a segment of our population that really needs it, and without it, we end up in a position where they are segregated, isolated and maybe not able to engage in community or have the products that they need to live a fulfilled life," Nuttall said.

City councillors also spent a large portion of Wednesday's meeting debating the future of cycling lanes in the city. A staff report was presented calling for cycling lanes to be implemented from Bayfield Street to St. Vincent Street.

However, talk quickly turned to councillors' concerns over dangers posed by on-road bike lanes on arterial roads.

"As we move forward as a city and we're looking at bike lanes and we're looking at how to properly help people get across town using active transportation I think that we need to put a little more thought into how we're going to do it in not just a way that's going to help somebody get from point A to B but helps them gets from A to B safely," the mayor said ahead of the meeting.

While the contracts for the work on Bayfield and St. Vincent have already been awarded, staff will provide councillors with information on the cost of separated cycling lanes, information some on council suggested could be helpful for future projects. Top Stories


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