Barrie Central

Update – 86% of respondents to the Examiner’s on-line poll now saying “yes”, Council should be involved in the Barrie Central issue. More info to come.

Town Hall Meeting this Sunday – Ward 1

Late notice on here but we’ve been promoting it elsewhere for weeks – I will be having a town hall with Ward 1 Councillor Bonnie Ainsworth on Sunday, Jan 29, 11AM to 1pm, at Rooster’s Grill, in the plaza at the corner of Johnson and Grove.  Come on out, part of a broader effort to engage more residents and get out into neighbourhoods.

Wishes for 2011

Slightly delinquent in posting this – but on Jan 1, 2011, we renewed the annual tradition of the Mayor’s New Year’s Day Levee.  It was great to see so many residents of Barrie gathered in the Rotunda of City Hall, enjoying refreshments and discussing important issues with myself and members of Council.   As part of this event, we invited attendees to write their wishes for 2011 on banners located in the Rotunda and I would like to share a selection of those wishes with everyone…   

MY WISH FOR 2011

  • Redo Duckworth! It is a rough ride to RVH!
  • Bench at City Hall.
  • May Mayor, Council & Citizens all work together to build a vibrant (more so than present) city.
  • Save Barrie District Central Collegiate
  • A dog walking free to drink the water of Kempenfelt Bay without a penalty on a hot day!
  • Health, jobs, happiness, surprises, prosperity for every citizen of Barrie
  • Have a fantastically successful year.
  • More playgrounds within neighbourhood areas
  • May the arts flourish in our city.
  • A city that engages people, filled with caring involved citizens
  • An outdoor swimming pool
  • An outdoor amphitheatre close to the waterfront for regular summer concerts.
  • A 1200 seat theatre – Barrie loves concerts & performances & needs a theatre of its own
  • A skateboard park for little kids
  • Improvements to roads & our park surroundings!
  • A safe North Trail removing small growth allowing residents a view of the water! Let’s make the most of our waterfront!
  • Wish to win a Million or Two
  • A city to be proud of
  • Better improvement of Dunlop Store
  • Implement an Environmental Advisory Committee
  • Let’s not lose our Allendale Station – make a good decision please & develop it into a showcase of Barrie! Thanks.
  • Enough affordable housing
  • Save our schools, please. Let’s keep Barrie Central Collegiate alive!
  • We need a high school downtown!  Thanks.
  • For 2011 my wish is if Toronto & the GTA are the head of Ontario, I wish for Barrie to be the Crown
  • A sustainable future for Barrie!
  • Good health to all
  • Downtown – true revitalization.
  • We need to bring people back to downtown.
  • My wish. Let’s fill our newly acquired land in the south with high paying industry.
  • Keep Central Schools open; More community involvement & input with City Council.
  • That our new Mayor & city Council get along & make the best decisions for our beautiful city.
  • Barrie needs a children’s museum!

Opening up City Hall

This week we had the first ever Open Delegation at City Council – Peter Burstzyn, of the Barrie Windcatchers.

Barrie Council has not had an open segment before.  In fact, in the bad old days (ie. before last week), there was no way for residents to simply address their City Council – the only way you could get on Council’s agenda was to be opposed to something that has been discussed the previous week – confusing and very limiting.

With Open Delegations there is the opportunity to any member of the public to speak to Council, on any topic related to the City of Barrie.  It’s a relatively small change but I think a very important one – part of opening up City Hall to more public input.

Safe Streets

In every part of Barrie, there are local roads where speeding is a problem.  I think part of the reason for the problem is how we design streets – extra wide, not a lot of on-street parking, and long distances between intersections.  That’s something that needs to change as we design new neighbourhoods, but in the interim, I argued that we need traffic calming to ensure safety in areas of greatest concern.  Off the top of my head, I can think of at least a dozen places around Barrie where I heard serious concerns about accidents and near-misses on a local road.

Our arterial roads should be built to move lots of cars quickly; but our local neighbourhood roads are different – as well as being roads, they are often bike paths, ball hockey rinks, and dog walking trails.  If it takes an extra few seconds to get somewhere because you have to travel slower on a local road – that’s a small price to pay for safety.

This past week’s General Committee meeting saw City Council pass a new Traffic Calming program and policy, which will see the City retrofit temporary traffic calming measures into ten neighbourhoods around the city, and establishes how and where traffic calming can be retrofit on a permanent basis.

Addressing this issue early in the term was very important to me.  It will take time – several years – to roll out traffic calming on local roads throughout the city.  But with a policy in place to prioritize where these measures are needed most, now we can start to work on it year by year.

Getting out of the Gate

The municipal election this year was October 25th.  Inauguration was not until Dec 6th.  This was a significant gap – three weeks longer than in previous years – but it allowed your Mayor and Council to get rolling a little faster once inauguration was out of the way.

On December 11th, five days after the inauguration, Council met to discuss our strategic priorities for the term.  This meeting did not happen until well into February during the last Council and as a result, it was nearly six months after the last election that the new Council had finally set its high level direction.

This time around there was a high degree of agreement among members of Council about the key tasks for the coming years and we have focussed down to a set of five specific goals.  More to come on this in future entries.

The extra time also allowed us to do a little more familiarization as well.  Nearly all members of Council went to each of the City’s major facilities as part of an orientation effort to allow us to better understand the work that is done in each facility.  I was also able to meet with all members of Council before the inauguration to discuss the pressing issues in each of their wards.

We Be Bloggin’

Where to begin a blog like this?  Maybe a reminder of what I am here to accomplish:

  • Open up city hall
  • Set a new economic path
  • Grow smarter

That’s the plan, or at least, the short version.  There is of course much more: downtown, safer streets, fixing our finances, battling for Barrie Central, and a host of other issues.  But these three are the central planks.  If you’d like to read more, there’s more in here.