The first six months of a Council term are always busy, but this has been a period of unprecedented activity for Barrie Council.
In December, following inauguration, Council set 4 Strategic priorities for our term. They are: A Vibrant Business Environment, Responsible Spending, An Inclusive Community, and Well Planned Transportation.
Since then, the following matters have been dealt with by Council:
- The 2015 budget included an increased focus on renewal of infrastructure. Council established a new Dedicated Infrastructure Renewal Fund – these are funds that will be spent on roads, bridges, sidewalks, pipes, parks, and all other city infrastructure, in order to address the backlog of state-of-good repair projects that have gone uncompleted for far too long. This funding will also reduce reliance on debt by some $252M over the next 20 years, saving residents millions in interest payments and reducing the burden on future taxpayers by doing work now instead of at great cost later.
- Work began on Essa Road and proceeds through the final weeks of the Lakeshore Drive project, Capital plan also includes a substantial expansion in road resurfacing and reconstruction work on many roads that badly need it, such as Ferndale, Morrow Road, Bayview, Duckworth, and many others
- EA’s were passed for Duckworth Street (Bell Farm Road to St. Vincent), Dunlop Street (Toronto Street to Mulcaster Street), Brunton Park (Lovers Creek Slope stabilization improvements)
- Feasibility Study completed for Year Round Downtown Market
- A New Waterfront and Marina plan was passed by Council
- The Sustainable Waste Management strategy was put into place, with resulting increases in green bin use
- The City’s technology overhaul kicked off, with the ERP project working to map and automate thousands of manual processes
- A new plan to use our downtown parking lots to spur revitalization and improve the parking budget was passed
- The Allandale Station site was improved and the plan for final fit out and completion was passed by Council
- Barrie is one of six Ontario cities working to merge their electric companies, to create the largest municipally owned utility in the province
- A new energy savings plan will cut costs for taxpayers – through in part a project to convert all 11,000 streetlights in Barrie to LED’s, saving taxpayers more than $2M a year in energy costs – a great example of innovation delivering savings.
- The new Affordable Housing Strategy was passed in the first 100 days, including 14 actions to begin increasing the supply of affordable housing, and Budget 2015 provides funding toward 54 unit affordable housing development on Brooks Street at the IOOF campus in Allandale.
- Farmer’s Market – Wednesdays at City Hall plus study of the Transit terminal- committee formed
In our broader community:
- Invest Barrie has begun expanded Business Retention & Expansion efforts through Phase 1 of a formal employer outreach program.
- The City has seen job growth and new employers. A new 75,000SF manufacturing plant by armored car manufacturer Streit Inc. coming to south end of Barrie, and major industrial employers such as JEBCO and Napoleon continue to expand.
- The City was not chosen for a university campus – a major missed opportunity.
- The City is working to reduce costs and become more open for business – processing time for industrial building permits continues to drop; now 1.1 months, down from 3.5 months in 2010
- The Memorial Square/ Meridian Place project kicked off,
- A new performance-based transit contract was put in place, and will begin July 1st. Transit ridership was up by more than 7% year-over-year in late 2014 and early 2015.
The City also continued to grow its role as a leading municipality, regionally, provincially, and nationally:
- The City won several awards, including:
- The Lieutenant Governor’s Ontario Heritage Award for Excellence in Conservation for the Restoration of the Former Allandale Station
- AMCTO Municipal Excellence Award for Zone 2 (Dawn McApline)
- Barrie Police Services is awarded the High Five Innovation Award by Parks and Recreation Ontario (PRO).
- AMCTO E.A. Denby Award (Accessibility- Sunnidale Park Playground Redesign)
- NFPA 2014 Fire and Life Safety Educator of the Year, (Samantha Hoffman)
- Environmental Services/Access Barrie- award for the Rethinking Waste animated video
- Lifesaving Society congratulated the City of Barrie for operating the 15th largest lifesaving program, the 5th largest in a community with population between 100,000-250,000 and the 10th largest leadership training program in Ontario for 2014.
- The City held the Central Ontario Resiliency Conference, bringing together regional and national leaders on severe weather and climate change, to look at this pressing issue.
- City staff organized the first Ottawa advocacy day for the Large Urban Mayor’s Caucus, with dozens of meetings in Ottawa over 24 hours as well as a regular meeting of the group.
Through it all, Councillors and staff continued to use new tools and technology and work 24/7 to provide service to our residents. Councillors answered thousands of calls and emails, held meetings in their neighbourhoods, took on issues both small and large, and planned for our future and that is the work we will continue in the months and years to come.