Barrie council gave final approval Monday night to a deal that would see the city gain control of the historic W.A. Fisher Auditorium.

Councillors unanimously approved a land swap with HIP Developments, the current owner of the former Barrie Central Collegiate site.

The deal would see the city trade Red Storey Field and property on Bradford Street in exchange for the Fisher Auditorium and land fronting on Dunlop Street.

The city wants to transform the auditorium into a theatre and event centre. The estimated cost to the city would to redevelop the property is more than $25 million.

"This is very exciting for the city because this is the opportunity for us to have a conference centre in our downtown and really boost the economy and the tourism opportunities," said Mayor Jeff Lehman.

Council also agreed to include the YMCA in the preliminary site plan. The YMCA is currently looking for a new location. They have expressed interest in the Central site in the past.

"It's absolutely the ideal location, we're going to be a catalyst I think for economic development in the downtown core, and it's going to allow us to develop a YMCA, a 21st century YMCA that's going to be a community hub," said YMCA board member Brian Tamblyn.

The YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka could be involved in this project through a potential lease or purchase of land.

"The west end needs it, the Y is the biggest employer of youths, so let's get that happening," said councillor Rose Romita. 

City staff will also undertake stakeholder consultation concerning requirements for the size and scope of the project, and report back to General Committee for approval of the final design.

The land exchange between the City and HIP is dependent upon Council’s final acceptance of a business case for the development and operation of W. A. Fisher Auditorium and Event Centre.