Anyone noticed how Anne Street South has turned around in recent years?
Anne Street South was Main Street of Barrie’s early post-war industrial area. Over the years, as newer industrial areas to the south started to attract more modern industries, and as Ontario manufacturing was hammered through the 1980s and 1990s, many of the larger plants actually on Anne Street started to close. Some of the anchor businesses are still there, such as Barrie Welding, a leading-edge shop producing everything from heavy equipment for mining to robots for auto plants. But several of the other industries closed, such as Risdon.
The condition of the industrial sector in the area was matched by the condition of the road. By the middle part of last decade, Anne Street was often on the CAA’s list of the top 10 worst roads in Ontario. A “Barrie Special” – varying from four lanes, to sort of three and a half lanes, Anne was pockmarked and past it’s shelf life.
After lengthy negotiations to buy the needed property strips on each side of Anne to make it a consistent width, it was finally rebuilt and reopened as a proper 4 /5 lane arterial road in 2010. It’s interesting to see what’s happened since. A number of new businesses have moved onto Anne – it is continuing to shift to being a commercial street rather than a purely industrial area.
The types of businesses that have moved into the area mirror changes in Barrie’s economy. An office building near Tiffin. A new big box outdoor living store. An expanded garage. The new Kawartha Dairy ice cream shop and store. Just off of Anne Street, there are three recycling businesses, including Habitat for Humanity’s expanded ReStore. But most encouragingly – Barrie Welding is expanding. Their new building is under construction right now. It is extremely encouraging to see industrial uses expanding in Barrie, particularly in older areas such as this one.