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Proposed multi-purpose field along Barrie's waterfront sparks strong reaction

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The fate of a proposed multi-purpose field development along Barrie's waterfront hangs in the balance as the city prepares to make a crucial decision amid polarizing reaction.

Although the City appears poised to proceed with the project after the general committee unanimously approved it last week, it continues to face severe opposition.

"We are shocked," said Cherin Harris-Tuck, a representative of Minets Point residents who live near what will be the north end of the project. "There are better places for a sports facility."

That is one of the main arguments of those opposed to the project. Others are concerned about how it will disrupt the forestry of the waterfront.

"If they cut most of the trees in the centre part down and replace them with saplings that are not guaranteed to grow very quickly, it certainly won't replace the biomass in time," stated Bill Scott, former chair of the Allandale Neighbourhood Association.

The projected $4.5 million development is slated to span between South Shore Park and Minets Point Park. It will feature a multi-purpose field with a synthetic turf surface that will also serve as the Sea Cadets' new parading ground.

The plan also includes planting 1,000 more trees.

However, a petition against the project has garnered over 1,600 signatures in just under a week.

"There would be a lot more if we had more time," added Harris-Tuck. "We only found out about this days ago."

Nonetheless, the City hopes to be able to address two issues at the same time with the development -- a new home for the Sea Cadets and increasing recreational capacity.

"When you think about the growth here in the City of Barrie, the number of people that are moving here, certainly we need to have more recreational space than we had in the past," said Mayor Alex Nuttall in an interview with CTV News last week.

Simcoe County Rovers FC echoed that in a statement to CTV News, saying in part, "We need more capacity in the community. We are often seeking field time for our practices outside of the City in Aurora or Vaughan because of capacity and facility constraints."

Those opposed to the multi-purpose field development prefer to address that need on more than just a seasonal basis.

"This [project] is only for four or five months of the year," stated Harris-Tuck. "[Youth sports] need an indoor facility. They need City Hall [staff] to research."

Other petitioners held a consultation at Wickie's Pub Monday night to voice their concerns with fellow residents.

The City's official decision on whether to proceed with the project will be made at Wednesday's council meeting.

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