Barrie considers neighbourly pacts
Can’t say Barrie isn’t a good neighbour.
City councillors will consider partnerships Monday with Essa Township, Orillia and Simcoe County Museum on public transit, next year’s Ontario Winter Games and Allandale’s Historic Train Engine 1531 respectively.
“Our residents and businesses don’t care about municipal boundaries – they want to see their communities work together to save money and provide more services,” Barrie Mayor Jeff Lehman said. “That should always be the goal.
“Wherever a partnership can save our residents money and/or provide new or expanded services, we should look at them.”
The Essa transit service has been in place since May 2013, running two buses from Allandale Waterfront GO Station along County Road 90 into Angus, then Canadian Forces Base Borden.
“We are able to provide service to the more than 1,000 Barrie residents who work at Base Borden, as well as bring residents of Angus into Barrie,” Lehman said. “This has social and economic benefits.
“For Essa residents, transit connections to Barrie allow those who can’t drive or choose transit as a way to get to everything from medical appointments to shopping to events in the city. Since it started, the Essa transit partnership has seen ridership that is higher than forecast.”
Ridership is projected at 19,000 this year. The service carries an annual cost of $175,000, which is paid in full by Essa, but the deal is set to expire at the end of this year. Councillors will consider renewing it Monday
Orillia is hosting the 2018 Ontario Winter Games March 1-4 for 3,000 athletes, coaches and officials competing in 25 sports, and estimated to draw 5,000 spectators to the region.
Orillia has reached out to Barrie to become a host partner, and it’s a natural fit – since this city is already planning for 260 athletes competing in badminton, squash and wheelchair basketball.
Partnering with Orillia would carry a $10,000 commitment for Barrie, including $1,850 of in-kind facility rental space.
In return Barrie could receive naming rights, advertising, marketing and other promotions.
City councillors will also look at the potential donation of Engine 1531 to Simcoe County Museum, where it’s been since 2008, to continue the emphasis on railway heritage and its role in developing Simcoe County.
Engine 1531 is in poor condition, requiring more than $315,000 in upgrades – which the city would contribute to if the donation is approved.
The engine cannot be returned to the Allandale Station land, which is the subject of a Stage 4 archaeological investigation.
Lehman said these partnerships are important on a number of levels.
“As the major urban centre in Central Ontario, it’s my view that Barrie can help others by providing some regional services - our fire service dispatches for about 20 different municipalities, for example, and we have a strong partnership with the County of Simcoe across many different issues, such as affordable housing,” he said. “We also frequently host regional events such as the Central Ontario Climate Change conference, and the Simcoe County Truck Rodeo – that’s us being hosts for professional development and training.”
Partnering on the First Responders Campus with the County of Simcoe, both Barrie and county residents could save millions of dollars, Lehman said.
Future partnerships are also being worked on – with the county and possibly Springwater Township’s transit plans, with Innisfil regarding servicing some boundary land along Big Bay Point Road.
“We’ve also been talking with Base Borden about some potential partnerships, building on the strong relationship we’ve developed over the last few years,” Lehman said. “Transit and fire training are two partnerships with Borden that have been in place historically, with mutual benefit.”
And the reasons don’t change. “There are two really good reasons for neighbours to partner. One is to save taxpayers money,” Lehman said. “Two is to be able to do things we can’t do today, that provide service to residents. email@example.com
Allandale Historic Train Engine 1531 has been at Simcoe County Museum since 2008, and is a good fit with the museum's theme of Barrie and Simcoe County in the early 20th century.