Downtown – the Year in Review

Further to my last post – Christmas/New Year’s is a good time for a gut check – to look back and see what worked and what didn’t, and what needs to change for the new year.

Our recent citizen satisfaction survey noted that Downtown Barrie is one of the top issues facing our city.  Looking at our Downtown, 2011 was a very good year.  The Mady Theatre opened, and construction began on the first new commercial and residential development in the west end of downtown in more than thirty years – the Nautica development at 15 Maple Street. 

But the most positive thing that happened was the number of storefronts that filled in Downtown during 2011.  Here’s a list of the new businesses that came to Downtown in 2011 – thanks to Craig Stevens of the Downtown BIA for this list.


Bark & Meows

Deelish Waffles & Desserts

TLC Bistro

Absolutely Fabulous Fashion Finds


Femme Fatale Spa Lounge

Bliss Studio

Donaleigh’s Pub


Red Tulip (returned to downtown)

Mitty’s Sports Bar & Grill

The Clarkson Pub

Wild Wing

The Edge Gallery

The Brentwood Salon (relocated and expanded)

Simply Tea & Chocolate

The Maple Avenue Towers

Mady Lakeview Sales Office

Mady Centre for the Performing Arts

The West Sales Office

Back To Basics Social Developments – Unity Market; opened on Toronto St.

Gown Gallery – new on 54 Dunlop Street West


In addition, many other businesses expanded or grew in new locations downtown.  Looking ahead, while January will no doubt bring some additional vacancies (many companies are on a calender year lease, and if they are planning to close, January is usually the month), the strength of downtown will be in both its commercial and growing residential population.  As several developments move forward in 2012, Council will be focussed on ensuring public areas continue to become safer, more attractive places to be.  The Downtown BIA has done excellent work in 2011 in implementing the first steps in Roger Brooks’ recommendations for making downtown more of a people place, including temporary patios and new beautification initiatives.    The trick will be to keep the momentum going in 2012, despite an uncertain economy.  But a stronger Downtown means a stronger community as a whole.

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.


One Response to “Downtown – the Year in Review”
  1. Jen says:

    I know this has nothing to do with down town but since there is a major traffic and road engineering issue in Barrie this might be good to look at

    A new way to build roads!

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