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City grant brings new basketball courts to Barrie communities


Some local youth in Barrie hope the summer-like conditions last as long as possible after the opening of a new basketball court in Barrie this week.

A new court was unveiled Friday at the Mill Creek Townhouse complex. Operated by Barrie Housing, the new site is one way that the organization hopes to create a heightened sense of community after the pandemic forced many people in the area to stay apart.

"We do know that we had a lot of excited kids to come out," says Maryanne Denny-Lusk, the CEO of Barrie Housing. "We were hearing a lot of stories of parents saying that kids would come every day to see if it was done yet or to see if the backboard was installed because it was a little bit delayed getting some of the materials."

The new basketball court is on the site of what was once a playground for the residents of the 118 Mill Creek townhouses.

"It was very dated, and a lot of our children and this site are older, and the playground just wasn't being utilized," says Denny-Lusk. "But what we did notice was that a lot of kids were playing basketball on the streets or in the parking lots. It was a little unsafe, and then we had cars that were potentially being hit and people concerned, and so we thought this would be a great opportunity to provide kids with a safe place to go."

The unveiling of the project has special meaning for Barrie Mayor Jeff Lehman, who was once the chair of Barrie Housing.

"Whenever you have a social housing property, it can be a challenge to keep it up to modern standards, to make sure there are amenities for the families who live here, so that's special," says Lehman. "I think anytime you can do this in a place where you know the kids are going to use it a lot, and maybe they won't otherwise get some of the chances, this is really special."

The recreational and cultural services grant funded the project, a program started last year to bring new life to various spots throughout the city.

In addition to this basketball court, the funding will also go to the creation of two others at community housing sites and a soccer pitch at an existing site.

"It's just an amenity primarily for the kids who live here," says Lehman. "But it was made possible through a program at the city of Barrie where we give grants, relatively small amounts of money, to do things like this in neighbourhoods and locations across the city."

Long-time Mill Creek resident Chelsea Minogue used to play at the site when it was a playground and is excited to see the changes to the community.

"It's a long thing coming and a long wait coming for it," Minogue says. "It's going to be really cool, and it will get the kids off the streets!" Top Stories

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