5 Things to Celebrate About Barrie on the 150th Canada Day


  1. Steel frames are going up – Why is this important? Steel frames are the basis for commercial, institutional, and industrial buildings in Canada. But it’s what goes in them that makes the difference: jobs, labs, classrooms, clinics, services. Today in Barrie there are steel frames everywhere, here’s some examples:
  2. The Economy is Booming – Employment in Barrie is at 94.6%. Social service caseloads have dropped by 20% in the past 18 months. The City has sold out its supply of industrial land. Housing starts are up, although Barrie is still in the midst of a supply crisis that is driving rents and sale prices to unprecedented levels. But there’s little question the local economy has strengthened in the past few years and is expanding quickly again.
    • Mapleview/Veterans – An enormous new 200,000SF industrial building – one of the largest industrial buildings in the City is under construction
    • Welham Road – Innovative Automation’s new 60,000 SF manufacturing plant is coming along quickly
    • Georgian College – The Centre for Advanced Research is under construction, with labs and classrooms for university-level engineering programs
    • Gallie Court – A new medical office building is being built across from RVH
  3. Most of Downtown is thriving – Storefront occupancies are at a record high, and patio life is thriving this summer. Office space on upper floors is slowly being renovated and new companies are choosing the core. The bus terminal is planned to become a new public market, including a new pavilion for the Barrie Farmer’s Market (which has moved out onto the road on Mulcaster Street and is itself thriving and awesome). Georgian College is bringing hundreds of students to a new digital media campus at Ross/Bayfield, opening Sept 2017.
  4. Public Spaces are growing – It’s been a long time coming, but the all-new expanded public waterfront is starting to open up, with the new marina and docks open now, new landmarks such as the Rotary clock, an improved playground, and new attractions now open at the Beach. Meridian Place and the new bandshell is underway. In a few weeks’ time, the expanded Centennial Park will open, with 5 more acres of parkland, more parking, new separate walking and bike paths, and large new lawns and areas to just sit and enjoy the jewel of the city, Kempenfelt Bay.
  5. The vision for a Just Society is getting ever closer – In 2016, Barrie was one of only two cities in Canada to have zero hate crimes reported to police. The vision of inclusion and diversity laid out in the Charter of Rights is slowly progressing, year by year, as Canada tackles difficult questions of inequality and seeks to remedy them.  And we have seen new educational and cultural initiatives supporting reconciliation of indigenous and non-indigenous Canadians – from Springwater Park to the Maclaren Art Centre to the first pow-wow in Innisfil, to the BNFC’s first National Indigenous Day event at Barrie City Hall.  Reconciliation can only follow speaking hard truths, and there are no short cuts, but it feels like we’re starting down the right path when both leaders and grass roots initiatives from both sides reach out.

Most of all, especially as we look around the world at other nations, we need to remind ourselves and celebrate that we live in a democracy where freedom, diversity, a high standard of living, and political expression are possible.  These freedoms were earned by prior generations through two world wars and constant effort to make forward progress as a society over the decades.  We can continue that legacy by committing ourselves to continue to strengthen Canada in the years to come.

About jefflehman
Jeff Lehman is the 46th Mayor of the City of Barrie. The Ward 2 Councillor for the City of Barrie from 2006 to 2010, he was the Chairman of the Finance Committee of Council, chaired the City’s Growth Management Working Group, and created the Historic Neighbourhoods project, a new initiative to protect and revitalize Barrie’s oldest neighbourhoods. Jeff has lived in Barrie for most of his life, having grown up in Allandale and attended Barrie Central Collegiate. Jeff holds a B.A. from Queen’s University, and a Master’s Degree with first class honours from the UK’s prestigious London School of Economics. He was hired to teach at the LSE following his graduation, and lived and worked in London for two years as an academic. Since that time, as an economist, he has worked with cities across Canada to manage redevelopment and invest in their urban infrastructure. In 2005, he established the Growing By Degrees Task Force to assist in expanding university education opportunities in Barrie, and has volunteered his time with many organizations in the City. Jeff lives near Downtown Barrie with his wife, Jennifer, a part-time professor of political science, and their young daughter Cassie, who is already smarter than her father.

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