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Proposed waterfront development gets thumbs up from city councillors


Barrie's Sea Cadets are one step closer to securing a new home after City councillors granted initial approval to a controversial and transformative plan that relocates the cadets and promises broader benefits for local sports organizations.

Wednesday's council meeting was standing room only, with dozens in attendance for a consequential vote that would reshape a significant portion of the city's so-called crown jewel, the waterfront.

The field would be located near the Southshore Community Centre along Lakeshore Drive and serve as the Sea Cadets' new home base, providing a parade ground.

"What we realized is that a parading ground is essentially the same size as a field or a sports field. And so, rather than just having it for one user group, let's open it up to many user groups," Mayor Alex Nuttall said.

A related project will also see an expansion to the Southshore centre, providing interior space for the cadets, with councillors citing safety concerns over its current home.

"The building itself is decrepit. It's embarrassing that we have our youth in this building, in this facility. [It has] no washroom facilities. It's ancient," said City councillor Bryn Hamilton.

Design concept for a new multi-purpose field along the Allandale Waterfront in Barrie, Ont. (Source: City of Barrie)

Several youths turned up, hoping for approvals on a new field for sports, but many residents who live in the area are opposed to the development.

A petition to stop the development launched by a group called the South Shore Park Neighbours has garnered over 700 signatures since Tuesday.

The group claims the development threatens the habitats of wildlife and "disrupts the peace enjoyed by residents who appreciate the quietness of woodland nature at night."

Ward 8 city councillor Jim Harris, who has received several messages from residents about the multi-purpose field, emphasized the project's communal significance.

"It's everybody's property. It's not Ward 8's property. So everybody has a stake," Harris said.

Councillor Sergio Morales emphasized the need for swift progress after years of deliberation.

"It shouldn't have taken 18 years since then-councillor Nuttall was appointed to the Sea Cadets Relocation Committee to get to this point, and it shouldn't take another 18 years to even do anything about it," he noted.

According to a staff report, the estimated cost is pegged at more than $4.6 million for the field and another $4.5 million for the Southshore expansion, but councillors made an amendment that would ease the financial pressure.

"But I think when it comes to the tax capital reserve, we also have to remember that there are lots of opportunities we're seeing going out to bring dollars to the city, including the sale of H-block, [and] the sale of the old police station on Sperling Drive," the mayor added.

If all progresses as planned, the new field could be operational as early as August next year, pending final approval at next week's council meeting.

Residents who wish to have their say can register to speak at next week's meeting. Top Stories

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