Big week for Barrie

Lots of news in the past week in Barrie. 

First, the IBM announcement.  It’s a great honour that IBM has chosen Barrie for a major new facility, and I was delighted last week to join representatives of the Provincial and Federal cabinets at the announcement of their new, $210M research project.  While the numbers of jobs in Barrie will be only a portion of the overall 145 new jobs at IBM, the project in Barrie has already created more than 100 jobs in construction, and there will be many more created through the research projects that will happen in part at the Barrie data centre. 

What is truly incredible about what IBM is doing is the nature of the research.  It will be leading-edge modelling in neuroscience, smart cities, clean water, supported by IBM’s supercomputers.  The computing power will allow research that hasn’t been possible before, in part through the power of cloud computing.

The next day, Minister Bob Chiarelli was in Barrie to meet with me about our priorities.  Bob Chiarelli is the Minister of Infrastructure and Transportation, and as a former Mayor of Ottawa, understands what municipalities struggle with from day to day.  He has promised help with the Duckworth interchange and was very supportive of our bid to bring a university campus in Barrie.

We also had three openhouses about the transit plan last week.  Each was well attended and raised good concerns and questions.  We won’t be implementing changes to our transit system until spring of 2013, so there is lots of time to make your voice heard.  Details and an online survey are available here.


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.


3 Responses to “Big week for Barrie”
  1. Given that Barrie is a mere 45 Minutes from toronto, and that Barrie’s telecom infrastructure is set up to handle large datacentres, I would expect to see a vast increase in the number of datacentres that begin to choose barrie as a home.

    What is disturbing about this trend is the lack of published information regarding how Barrie plans on handling the power requirements of this growing industry.

    You may all remember when BMO announced and subsequently built their datacentre out on Veteran’s Way. What you might not know is that the Hydro utility at their previous datacentre (which is still active at Steeles and Vic Park) apparently could not provide any more additional power to the facility. Because of this, BMO began running DIESEL GENERATORS full time in their parking lot to provide enough power.

    How does the city of Barrie plan on addressing these issues, or has it even been identified as a risk?

    What I think a lot of citizens would appreciate is a mandate from the city ensuring a “green” computing environment. Perhaps utilizing the roof space of the datacenter for a solar array? There should be some sort of initiative spearheaded by the city to force these heavy consumers to perform due diligence regarding power consumption.

    The construction jobs created by this project are needed and welcome, yet are only temp positions. The major of the valuable jobs would lie within operating the facility. The majority of those jobs can be offshored or handled by remote hands and are in many cases, with the lower paid on-site laborious work being left to the locals. Given the true “limited” value of this project coming to Barrie, I would like to see the city require these business to have a significant plan to give back to the communities they are building in.

    The jobs created by research may not be in Barrie either. The idea of super computing infrastructure is that it can be placed anywhere, and accessed remotely. There are a vast number of researchers at UHN in Toronto who use supercomputing infrastructure at many sites around the globe. Placing a computing cluster in Barrie does not guarantee people in Barrie will be using the cluster.


  2. Robert Viera says:

    What concessions did the city offer/make to IBM?

  3. Robert Viera says:


    If you’re not keen on diesel generators, you might not want to look at the IBM data centre when you’re going by it.

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