Barrie has grown into a true urban centre with office buildings and condos and many more under construction. Over the next 10 years the city’s growth rate is projected at 40 to 60 per cent.
What’s truly unique is its small town feeling that visitors can always appreciate, thanks to the shoreline with its beaches, marina and parklands right downtown, the ski hills nearby and trails all around, making for the perfect combination of city and country living. Those seeking four seasons of outdoor activities find it all in Barrie. The outdoor fun will get even better thanks to Barrie’s Downtown and Waterfront Re-Development Plan underway.
Barrie’s vision to re-develop its waterfront, marina and downtown began over a decade ago but was shelved during the 2008 global economic crisis. One of the city’s greatest assets is its 10 km of publically owned shoreline which is being preserved. The waterfront parks are being redeveloped to accommodate outdoor theatre as well as recreational activities.
In 2011 Barrie set out its 10 year vision for arts and culture with the desire to being recognized as the “regional hub for arts & culture, including visual, performing and culinary arts” which are to be integrated in all activities. In the fall of 2011 the Mady Centre for the Performing Arts was opened to showcase local and regional productions, followed by the Georgian Theatre, a professional performing arts facility on the Georgian College campus, and the Centre for the Performing Arts, at Park Place.
What a great idea our city planners had to develop the Meridian Place project as a meeting place for people to gather and encourage activities to flow from the waterfront into the downtown core. Meridian Place & Memorial Square has been designed as a multi-use civic public space connecting Barrie’s historic downtown with the waterfront. The area has been increased to accommodate “large events and local talent”. A permanent, covered, state of the art, performance stage is being built to give a 365 degree experience for performers and audience. Meridian Place will become the focal point for community events in Barrie and should be completed by the summer of 2018.
Between April and Thanksgiving Barrie has over 20 waterfront and downtown festivals and events, with the majority incorporating arts and culture. Whether it’s ice fishing, snowmobiling, dog sledding, cross country skiing or snowshoeing – there’s always a fun winter activity on Kempenfelt Bay.
Barrie may still be the little city a bit north of Toronto but it is blossoming to enrich the lives of all residents and visitors to the region as well as attracting many to relocate from Toronto. The demand for homes in Barrie should continue for a long time to come.