The Beautiful Home

This is the kind of story that makes this community such an incredible place.

A Barrie couple, Tim and Rhonda Kent, wanted to do something to assist women and their families with transitional housing in Barrie, a huge need.  They took a VERY run-down historic home in Barrie and have transformed it into housing units for women trying to get back on their feet after leaving abusive relationships.  Aside from helping fill such an important need in the community, this project took on a life of it’s own as they used their network of friends and supporting organizations to donate time, labour, and materials to make the project a reality.  The result is incredible, as you can see on their website (link below).

This project happened without any organization pushing them, without a program or a government grant – they just went and did it.

Reason #467,931 why I love this town!  Please give this a look and consider giving them your support.

Click here to visit their website.

Jobs Data

I promised in a reply to a comment on a previous post that I would provide some perspective on the monthly jobs data.  I’ve often said in my comments that the month-to-month swings can be volatile and it’s really only the longer term trends that can be relied on as a reliable indicator of Barrie’s economic strength, and whether we’re truly seeing an increase in employment or not.

For info:  here is the average annual unemployment rate by year back to 2007, just before the recession.  2013 is based on only two months of data so far, but remember these are rolling 3 month averages – so it really reflects survey data from Barrie from Nov 2012 through Feb 2013.

2007

5.0%

2008

5.5%

2009

9.4%

2010

9.6%

2011

9.5%

2012

8.5%

2013*

7.2%

* 2013 data is year-to-date

Pretty clear trend, even going back 18 months to late 2011 when the rate spiked.

February’s data was another blockbuster month: unemployment down to 7.0%, employment up another 3,700 jobs.  You heard it here first though: these results are too strong to continue, there will almost certainly be some sort of correction in the coming months I think.  Still, this matches what we’re hearing from organizations like Manpower, as reported here.

Again I need to say – these are statistics, based on a survey.  They’re not comprehensive, and they don’t tell the stories behind the numbers – such as whether the jobs created are stable and well-paid, or not (truth is – some are, some aren’t).  They’re a broad measure of how we’re doing.  The full story can only be seen in what we see around us in the community: in the demand for social services, in the strength of other markets such as the housing market, and in the stories I hear from people all the time about their experiences looking for jobs.

RecAccess – new program to “do more with less”, for those with less

Every once in a while an idea comes along that is so simple and brilliant that you wonder why we haven’t done that before.  Our new program for access to recreation programs for low-income families and individuals is one of those.

The RecAccess program will allow individuals and families below the Low-Income Cutoff level to receive a “credit” on an account that they can spend on recreation programs at the City of Barrie.  We almost always have empty spaces in our recreation programs, and sometimes have to cancel programs because they aren’t full.  This program will help “top up” those programs with people who otherwise would not be able to participate in the programs.

This costs the City nothing, since the programs cost the same whether there is, for example, ten people in the class, or twelve.  The benefits to our community are probably obvious, but in addition to allowing those who couldn’t otherwise to get themselves or their kids into programs that promote fitness or education, it may also generate MORE revenue for the city, since the RecAccess program may also be used to part-subsidize programs (so some folks who qualify may use the funds to part-pay for some programs they wouldn’t take otherwise), and they may continue with programs after the credit is used up if their circumstances permit.  Overall, however, it’s about promoting an active community, public health, and more opportunities for our residents, especially kids.

More information is available by clicking here