Police agencies, including the Barrie Police Service, held a press conference Monday to report on an investigation into human trafficking involving Mexican workers.
In addition to the Barrie Police Service, the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP), the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and community-based agencies were part of the investigation.
On Tuesday, Feb. 5, about 250 frontline and support unit members from the OPP, Barrie police and CBSA executed 12 search warrants in Barrie and Wasaga Beach. Thanks to advanced, victim-focussed planning, the 43 victims – mostly males ranging in age from 20 to 46 years – were brought to safety, re-housed and provided with legal employment, police report.
“Whether it involves forced labour or the sex trade, human trafficking is not welcome and has no place in any community. The victims have renewed hope and the possibility of the better life they were promised now that they are free from the control of people who exploited them for personal gain,” said Barrie police chief Kimberley Greenwood.
Since 2018, police have been investigating information that suggested Mexican-born workers were being trafficked and/or defrauded by a cleaning company based in Barrie. They had been brought to Canada under the pretence of being here for either educational purposes or the promise of work visas and eventual permanent residency status, police report.
At the news conference, Greenwood, OPP Deputy Commissioner Rick Barnum, and representatives from Canada Border Services Agency, Barrie and Area Victim Services, and County of Simcoe Paramedic Services elaborated on their organization’s roles prior to, during, and after last week’s police activities.
The victims initially paid the traffickers large sums of money to leave their home country and be transported to Canada. Once here, the victims were made to live in squalid conditions at locations in Barrie and Wasaga Beach. The victims were transported by the traffickers to and from forced work locations in Collingwood, Innisfil, Oro-Medonte and Cornwall. The traffickers controlled wages and charged the victims fees for accommodations and transportation, police report.
The investigation is ongoing and criminal charges are expected be laid at a later date. But police and community support advocates remind everyone that if they believe they or someone they know is a victim of any form of human trafficking, to contact police or community victim services agencies for assistance.
“Human trafficking is modern day slavery. Labour human trafficking is a difficult crime to investigate. At every stage, our collective concern has been to ensure these 43 victims are well cared for from a personal health and wellness perspective and that they are now safely housed,” saids OPP deputy commissioner BARNUM, Provincial Commander OPP Investigations and Organized Crime.

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Winter conditions force closures and cancellations

Today’s winter storm is expected to be a lengthy one. Winter crews are working hard and will continue their cleanup efforts throughout the day. Details on today’s operations are available at www.barrie.ca/snow.
Below is a list of City of Barrie cancellations and closures due to the winter storm. We will continue to update our social media channels if anything else changes.

Updates, Cancellations, Closures – February 12, 2019: 
·        All City Registered Recreation Programs & Drop in Programs are cancelled. Fitness centres will close at 3:00 pm. All facilities remain open for ice permits and room rentals. For updates visitwww.barrie.ca/RecCancellations  or call (705) 739-4215
·        Barrie Transit is running, but experiencing delays. Visit www.myridebarrie.ca for real-time bus information
·        The City of Barrie Landfill site is closed for the remainder of the day. The Landfill is expected to reopen tomorrow: www.barrie.ca/landfill
·        Today’s Community Job Fair has been rescheduled for tomorrow (February 13) 2:00 pm – 6:00 pm at Liberty North

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Usage at charging stations for electrical vehicles (EV) at various locations in Barrie is falling “well below” initial estimates, Adam McMullin, manager of energy management, advises city council in a memo.
“Staff previously reported an initial estimated cost of $12,000 annually for the electrical usage of these EV charge stations. Based on part-year consumption data (as of December 31/2018), it is estimated that these costs will fall well below the initial estimate for the foreseeable future, even with an anticipated increase in utilization of the locations,” he writes. 
Back in late 2017, the City connected with Tesla to install charging stations at four locations, with Tesla covered all of the capital costs for the installation. In all 54 stations were installed at four locations:
• Marina, with 12 stations
• Heritage Park, with 12 stations 
• The library, with six stations
• The Parkade building, with 24 stations 
“The parkade chargers were energized on February 22, 2018 followed by the Heritage Park and marina locations on July 1, 2018, with usage increasing over the course of the summer as their existence became more commonly known. The library location chargers were brought online on September 15, 2018,” writes McMullin.
As part of the planning process, the Downtown Barrie Business Association (BIA) voiced support for the EV charge station deployment, “potentially offering sponsorship of the electrical operating costs. Staff have reached out to the BIA to discuss this partnership opportunity and are awaiting feedback from the BIA executive group.”
In addition, staff received both support and opposition for the program from the public. Feedback included comment that users of the stations should pay for the service without any cost to taxpayers.
“Staff will be reporting back to Council in the fall of 2019 after a full year of operation on public comments and feedback received, parking options, fee and charging alternatives and future opportunities,” continues McMullin.
“This evaluation period is necessary as the EV market is rapidly growing and the municipal best practices for adoption of EV charge infrastructure is evolving. Furthermore, it will allow staff to capture additional public feedback and evaluate the seasonal impact of usage and operation of these stations before potential options are brought forward for Council’s consideration.”

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City and county in talks to coordinate transit services

City transit staff are meeting with their county counterparts to explore ways to cooperate on transit services for Barrie and county riders.
In a memo to city council, Tyrell Turner, the City’s supervisor of transit business services, explained the Transit and Parking Strategy Department is “meeting regularly with the County of Simcoe (Simcoe County LINX) to explore opportunities to work together to provide the best customer service for any riders using both Simcoe LINX and Barrie Transit with the goal of building ridership for both parties.” 
The talks, he continues, include transfer stops, alignment of bus schedules, communication of schedule information, bus stop infrastructure, future routing plans, and fare integration.
“A fare integration encourages a transit rider to utilize both transit systems to complete their entire trip with the benefit of a reduced fare both to and from their destination. A fare integration plan has been established and the following parameters have been discussed and agreed to by both parties.”

 • Fares 
Transit riders departing the Simcoe County LINX would receive a $1 discount off the regular cash fare for Barrie Transit. Alternatively Barrie Transit riders would receive a $1 discount off their Simcoe County LINX cash fare. 

• Eligibility
Transit riders must provide a date and time stamped transfer from the originating transit provider to receive the corresponding discount. Transfers would be valid for 120 minutes to accommodate the length of the original trip plus transition onto the LINX or Barrie Transit system. Departing transfers would only be valid for discount at Barrie bus stops that are serviced by the Simcoe County LINX system. 

• Reporting
Both the Simcoe County LINX and Barrie Transit will configure their fare boxes to track the number of discounted fares provided throughout the pilot. This will provide valuable insight into the uptake of the pilot and associated travel patterns. 

Term 
The pilot be undertaken for a 12-month term from March 1, 2019 to February 28, 2020. At that time the County of Simcoe and the City of Barrie can review the pilot and make an informed recommendation to their respective Council for a potential permanent fare integration moving forward. 

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Police services board seeks full-time special constable

The Barrie Police Services Board is seeking qualified applicants for the position of full-time Special Constable, Community Service Unit.
The incumbent will work as an effective member of a team to deliver the Barrie Police Service Values, Influences, Peers (VIP) Program to grade school students.
For complete details and requirements of this posting, please visit our Current Opportunities page. The closing date for this position is Thursday, February 21, 2019, at 3:00 p.m.

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Victims of human trafficking rescued and relocated

Police agencies, including the Barrie Police Service, executed warrants in Barrie and Wasaga Beach, rescuing multiple victims of human trafficking.
The warrants were executed Tuesday morning, police report, involving Barrie police, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), and the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) in relation to a Labour Human Trafficking investigation.
“Public safety was not in jeopardy. This phase of the investigation is now complete and multiple victims of Labour Human Trafficking were safely relocated. Police will have more detailed information to provide about this ongoing investigation at a media conference in the coming days. Police appreciate the public’s interest and media’s cooperation.”

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With any luck the Polar Vortex might have lifted and the plunge won’t be quite so icy for members of the Barrie Police Service and other dippers.
The Annual Polar Plunge is set for Saturday, March 2 to raise money for Special Olympics Ontario, and 100 per cent of the funds will directly benefit the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics Ontario.
Plungers can either pay the registration fee or fundraise the minimum requirement to be able to take part in the plunge. In most cases, incentives will be given to plungers based on how much money they raise in donations.
The team that raises the most money will win a pizza party sponsored by Boston Pizza. There will also be medals awarded for best costumes. This event is supported by 107.5 KoolFM and Rock 95.
The plunge is set for Centennial Beach, with registration at noon and the actual dip beginning at 1 p./m. The cost for Registered SOO Athletes & Volunteers is $25 (or raise $50 to waive the fee). Adult registration is $50 (or raise $100.00 to waive the fee).
Participants can pre-register and pick-up their event kit on Thursday, Feb. 28, between 3:30 p.m. and 7:00 p.m., at the Barrie Police Service Headquarters, 29 Sperling Drive, Barrie. 
All plungers will get a Polar Plunge Icy Mug! Highest fundraiser per plunge: Samsung Galaxy Tab A 8″ 32 GB. Raise $100: Polar Plunge Socks. Raise $150: Polar Plunge Socks & Polar Plunge Shirt. Highest fundraiser in the province: Tickets to a Leafs Alumni box at an upcoming Leafs game (Date TBC)

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Winterfest showcases Barrie Native Friendship Centre

The City is partnering with the Barrie Native Friendship Centre for this year’s Winterfest, Saturday and Sunday.
The centre will be celebrating their 31st anniversary. It works to bring Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities together to promote culture and community in the City of Barrie. Winterfest 2019 will highlight and celebrate the local Indigenous community through a number of events and programming, including ice and snow sculptures, speakers, hoop dancing and cultural sharing.
Winterfest takes place Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Heritage Park and Meridian Place, with most activities being free. There are also drop-in activities and events at indoor venues throughout the community all weekend.
Outdoor fun
• Ice and snow sculptures highlighting Clans of the local Indigenous community
• Battle of the Chainsaws (Saturday at 1 p.m.)
• Lumberjack shows
• Toronto Maple Leafs Mobile Fan Zone
• Winter sport demonstrations – snowshoeing and snowboarding
• Helicopter rides (for a fee)
• Snow Valley’s mini tube slide
• Walking tour with Barrie’s Town Crier
• Skating at the Heritage Park pond, City Hall, or Centennial Park
• Polar Bear Dip – free to participate and no pre-registration required
• Maple taffy samples
• Learn about the history of making maple syrup with the Barrie Native Friendship Centre
• Family entertainment with Team T & J
Drop-in activities
• Barrie Native Friendship Centre – Knowledge Keeper: Clan System and Clan Governance; Learn to Hoop Dance
• Barrie Public Library – Indigenous Speaker Series: Jennifer Podemski and Nookmis Learning Circle
• MacLaren Art Centre – Storytime, NFB film screenings, Family Workshop, and performance by the Simcoe Contemporary Dancers
• Grey & Simcoe Foresters’ Regimental Museum Tour
• Toonie skates and swims at East Bayfield Community Centre, Allandale Recreation Centre, and Holly Community Centre
Community events   
• Winterfest Pancake Breakfast – hosted by the Lion’s Club of Barrie on Saturday morning at Collier Street United Church
• February Blues Festival – enjoy Jazz & Blues music in venues throughout the community
• Downtown Barrie’s Hot Cocoa Trail – hot chocolate creations available at downtown cafes and eateries every weekend in February
Free Winterfest shuttle
Winterfest offers a free Park ‘n Ride Shuttle on Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Sunday from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. The shuttle will pick up passengers on Coulter Street behind the Bayfield Mall at Barrie Transit stop #203, stopping on Bayfield Street at the Barrie Native Friendship Centre (stop #64 & #74) to hop on or off, and will drop off at the Downtown Transit Terminal.
Parking and road closure
If you’re driving, there’s plenty of downtown and waterfront parking available within close walking distance, including the Collier Street Parkade – a fully accessible, seven-level parking facility with over 300 spots located on Collier Street between Owen and Clapperton Streets.
Reminder: Barrie residents can park for free in waterfront lots when displaying a Resident Waterfront Parking Pass. Simcoe Street will be closed from Maple Avenue to Dunlop Street from 6 a.m. on February 2 to 6 p.m. on February 3.
For more information, including a full schedule of activities, times and locations, visit www.barrie.ca/Winterfest.

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After all the deliberations and amendments, it comes down to this: Barrie city council approved an operating 2019 budget of $343 million, and a capital budget budget of $263.6 million.
That relates to a property tax increase of 1.88 per cent, plus a one per cent increase for the Dedicated Infrastructure Renewal Fund, used to replace and renew Barrie’s roads, pipes and buildings, bringing the total to 2.88 per cent.
“This budget takes a significant step forward in tackling Barrie’s infrastructure deficit,” said Mayor Jeff Lehman.
“For the second year in a row, we’ve kept the increase to operating costs below two per cent so we can invest more in fixing our infrastructure, facilitating affordable housing and preparing for growth. Yet there are also a lot of innovative projects in this budget that will improve how the City delivers services and save money.”
For the average Barrie home assessed at $336,000, this increase translates to an additional $124 annually. 
Council also approved a 3.44 per cent increase to water rates and a 3.39 per cent increase to wastewater rates. For a typical Barrie home consuming 180 cubic metres of water annually, the water bill will increase by $11.45 and the wastewater bill will increase by $15.86.
Key projects in the 2019 capital budget include:
• the continuation of the Barrie–Simcoe Emergency Services Campus, which is scheduled to open in 2020
• the Harvie Road crossing of Highway 400
• the widening of Mapleview Drive East from Country Lane to Yonge Street and the Road Resurfacing Program.
• Design work will continue on the new McKay Road interchange at Highway 400 and construction will begin on the rehabilitation of Hurst Drive from Cox Mill to Golden Meadow Road. 
Improvements to Barrie’s roads was a key priority identified by residents through the online Budget Allocator Tool. The 2019 budget includes a $55 million investment in roads, 11 times more than the 2013 budget of $5 million. In response to feedback from residents about road safety, council also approved funds to purchase five LED Radar Speed Boards to discourage speeding and improve safety.  
The City also plans to implement a Six Sigma program that will use a data-driven approach to improve processes across City departments. A review of the City’s winter road maintenance operations will aim to optimize routes, reduce costs and prepare for further growth.
A fleet renewal program will be introduced in 2019 to provide sustainable funding to manage the replacement of City vehicles in a cost-effective manner, and the Shift Government project will tackle the root causes of issues such as public health, the opioid crisis, and homelessness by bringing innovative, proactive approaches to service delivery.
Barrie’s waterfront will see four-season enhancements through additional beach and trail grooming, clean-up and new equipment such as benches, picnic tables and fire pits. The enhancements will be funded with revenues generated from tourism as a result of the new Municipal Accommodation Tax, which applies to room rentals provided by hotels, motels and inns in Barrie. 
Residential property tax bill funds are allocated to City services (55%), education (14% as mandated by the Province) and Service Partners (31% between the Barrie Police Service, Public Library, County of Simcoe, etc.). The Business Plan & Budget will be funded through property taxes, user fees and other financing sources.
The 2019 Business Plan & Budget is available at barrie.ca/budget.

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The Barrie Police Service is appealing to the public for assistance after a male was assaulted in his driveway.
On Friday, Jan. 18, at approximately 2:00 p.m., a male returned to his home in Barrie and as he parked his vehicle and exited the garage, he was assaulted by three unknown male suspects. After the attack, the males fled down to an awaiting car, described as a gold coloured, 4-door, 2001 Buick LeSabre.
At this time, the Barrie Police is attempting to find the three suspects, who are described as:
• Male, white, approximately 5’10”, thin build, scruffy facial hair, wearing a black hat, black jacket with a grey hood underneath, black pants, black shoes and gloves.
• Male, white, approximately 5’10”, thin build, no facial hair, black jacket, black pants, black shoes and gloves.
• Male, white, approximately 5’10”, thin build, no facial hair, black jacket, beige pants, black shoes.
Anyone with information with regards to this assault is asked to contact Constable Moore at 705-725-7025, ext. 2687, by email at jmoore@barriepolice.ca, by contacting Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477), or leave an anonymous tip online at www.p3tips.com.

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Police seek armed robbery suspect

Barrie Police are searching for a suspect in an armed robbery that occurred in downtown Barrie on Sunday afternoon.
Around 3:00 p.m., the suspect entered a convenience store in Barrie’s downtown area. The suspect walked behind the counter, displayed a weapon and made a demand for cash. The suspect obtained a quantity of cash and cigarettes before fleeing on foot. The employee was not physically injured as a result of the incident.
Police are seeking the assistance of the community in identifying the suspect.
The suspect is described as a male, non-white, about 6′ tall with a medium build. He was wearing a grey Toronto Raptor’s toque with white logo and multiple blue lines on top, a black scarf covering his face, black waist-length coat and black pants, black shoes with white soles, blue gloves with a white patterned design and a large, possibly, diamond earring in his left ear.
Investigating officers are asking anyone who may have information to please contact Detective Constable Latham of the Barrie Police Service at 705-725-7025 ext. 2743 or slatham@barriepolice.ca. Any information can be provided anonymously to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS or leave an anonymous tip online at www.p3tips.com.

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Police advise residents to be aware of roofing scam

The Barrie Police Service has charged an Innisfil man with fraud after receiving reports of advertisements for roofing services on online marketing sites.
Once the victim has paid a deposit, and the work was barely started, the suspect disappeared with the money. After trying to contact the suspect to arrange for the work to be completed, the victim discovered that the address and company name provided don’t exist.
Barrie Police believe there may be more victims in the community, so if this situation sounds familiar, contact Constable P. Matte of the Barrie Police Service at 705-725-7025 ext. 2557 or pmatte@barriepolice.ca.  Any information can be provided anonymously to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS or leave an anonymous tip online at www.p3tips.com.
For more information on how to protect yourself when hiring a roofer, visit the Government of Ontario’s Consumer Protection page at www.Ontario.ca/page/hiring-roofer for tips on how to research contractors, spot a scam, and file a complaint.

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The Barrie Police Investigative Services is appealing to the public for assistance after an initial incident that occurred early on Friday morning (Jan. 18), ending with a person being transported to hospital.
Around 3:40 a.m., there was a disturbance involving three males that took place on Dunlop Street East and Bayfield Street in the area of the Five Points intersection. Two of the involved males were able break free and enter a vehicle that began to drive off westbound on Dunlop St East. The third male attempted to open the driver’s side door of the vehicle, but fell to the ground and sustained injuries that required hospitalization.
Investigators are now attempting to locate a black coloured four-door sedan that was involved and wish to speak with the two males involved in the altercation along with any witnesses that may have observed the incident.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Detective Constable Latham at 705-725-7025 extension 2743 or email the officer at slatham@barriepolice.ca. If you wish to remain anonymous, you can contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477), or leave an anonymous tip online at www.p3tips.com.

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SIU investigates Barrie police sergeant

The province’s Special Investigations Unit (SIU) has charged Sergeant Michael Chytuk of the Barrie Police Service with Criminal Negligence Causing Bodily Harm, contrary to Section 221 of the Criminal Code of Canada, police report.
Sergeant Chytuk is a 28-year member of the Service. The charge relates to an incident that occurred at approximately 4:00 a.m. on Sept. 17, 2018, when Barrie Police responded to a reported robbery at a Barrie plaza. Afterwards, an interaction involving the officer and an occupant in the involved vehicle occurred, which resulted in the SIU invoking their mandate.
Under the authority of the Police Services Act of Ontario, Sergeant Chytuk has been suspended from duty with pay and is scheduled to appear at the Ontario Court of Justice in Barrie on Monday, Feb. 4.
The Barrie Police Service’s Professional Standards Unit will be conducting a review of the circumstances of this incident following the completion of the court proceedings, police report.
As the SIU is an independent investigative oversight body, the Barrie Police Service is not in a position to provide any of the underlying details that led to the charge.

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Alert citizen leads to arrest and stolen property

On Sunday, January 13, shortly after 8:00 p.m., a citizen who was out walking a family pet on Murray Street in Barrie heard a loud noise coming from a residence and observed an unknown male run from the rear of the home, police report.
The citizen immediately contacted the Barrie Police Service and responding officers attended to the area where they were assisted by the Canine Unit.
Police were also provided an excellent description of the suspect and located a male a short time later near Bayview Drive and Little Avenue. The male, 31 from Barrie, was arrested and was charged with one count of Break and Enter and Fail to Comply with a Probation Order.
As a result of the ongoing investigation which has been continued by the Barrie Police Street Crime Unit, a Criminal Code Search Warrant was executed yesterday at a residence located in Barrie and there was a significant amount of stolen jewellery, coins and other personal and family type heirlooms that were seized.
Police have also determined that the stolen property and some that was already sold had been from eight additional break and enters and that the accused has been carrying out break and enters throughout the city since November of 2018, normally by forcing open rear doors or windows of the targeted homes, police report. Additional criminal charges are expected.
Anyone with information on this mischief is asked to contact Constable Hankin of the Barrie Police Service at mhankin@barriepolice.ca, contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or leave an anonymous tip online at www.p3tips.com.
Photos of the recovered property are now available in a Facebook album on the Barrie Police Service Facebook Page. If you believe that any of these items belong to you, please contact Barrie Police Service investigators at mhankin@barriepolice.ca 705-725-7025.


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Police make arrest in assault cases

Barrie Police Service received two separate reports from victims who had reported being sexually assaulted in the east end of the city.  From the initial investigations, it was determined that both of these occurrences were likely carried out by the same person.
As a result of an ongoing investigation that has been conducted by the Barrie Police Service Crimes Against Persons Unit, an arrest was made. A 20-year old male, who currently resides in Barrie, has been charged with two counts of Sexual Assault.
The Barrie Police Service wish to thank the public for their assistance in this matter and remind citizens to always be aware of their personal safety at all times and where possible, to travel with a friend and utilize well-travelled and property lit areas.

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The SMOS Action Plan is organized by pillars focused on Prevention, Treatment/Clinical Practice, Harm Reduction, Enforcement, and Emergency Management

Barrie identified as focus of consultations due to high rates of opioid overdoses

The group of agencies involved in the Simcoe Muskoka Opioid Strategy has written to Barrie councillors, informing them that one of its priority is “to explore an application for supervised consumption services in Barrie.”
Agencies involved in the strategy include include the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit (SMDHU), the Canadian Mental Health Association Simcoe County (CMHA), and the Gilbert Centre.
“A key component of the application process is community stakeholder consultations. Our organizations will begin these consultations in early 2019 and will provide people with lived experience of opioid use, health and social service providers, outreach service providers, police, fire, paramedics, City of Barrie Council and municipal staff , businesses and the general public in Barrie with an opportunity to share thoughts and perspectives on supervised consumption services (SCS) in Barrie,” states the letter.
It is signed by Dr. Charles Gardner, Medical Officer of Health; Gerry Croteau; Executive Director, Gilbert Centre; and Nancy Roxborough, Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Mental Health Association.
The Simcoe Muskoka Opioid Strategy (SMOS) is described as a multi-sector collaboration aimed at reducing opioid harms in Simcoe and Muskoka.
“In 2017-2018, SMOS developed and began implementing a comprehensive Action Plan, organized by pillars focused on Prevention, Treatment/Clinical Practice, Harm Reduction, Enforcement, and Emergency Management.”
There exists “a substantial amount of empirical evidence” that a supervised consumption service, often know as a safe injection site, delivers harm reduction benefits in terms of public health and safety, according to the report.
“Supervised Consumption Sites (SCS) provide an immediate response to an overdose and increase access to health and social services. A SCS is a legally sanctioned health facility that offers a hygienic environment where people can use illicit drugs under the supervision of trained staff. These SCSs are also called safer injection sites, drug consumption rooms and supervised injecting centers or facilities.
Such sites, says the report, provide benefits including:
• reduced overdose fatalities
• lower rates of syringe sharing (which in turn is anticipated to reduce the risk of HIV and Hepatitis C transmission)
• promoting safer and hygienic drug use, thus preventing adverse health outcomes, such as abscesses and infections
• are an effective strategy to reach people at greatest risk of overdose or blood-borne infections, and may improve access to HIV care
• provide an effective referral mechanism to detoxification and addiction treatment
• help to reduce public injecting and the inappropriate discarding of syringes.
The report goes on to say there is no evidence that SCS encourage increased drug use or initiate new users, or that operation of SCS leads to an increase in drug-related crimes.
The letter encourages council, as a community stakeholder, to participate in the consultation process.
“Your feedback is important as it will help to shape a proposed model for SCS in Barrie. Results from the consultations will guide the applications to the federal and provincial governments for SCS in Barrie. You will be contacted in the first few months in 2019 to request an in-person consultation.”
Barrie, the letter continues, is the focus of this consultation due to data which shows:
• rates of emergency department (ED) visits in 2017 for opioid overdoses were significantly higher in Barrie compared to rates in Ontario and the region of Simcoe Muskoka, and in fact ranked third in the province among municipalities larger than 100,000 people
• In 2017 there were 81 opioid related deaths in Simcoe Muskoka, with 36 of those deaths in Barrie
• The central north area of Barrie (which includes downtown) had ten-times the rate of Opioid Overdose ED visits in 2017 compared with the provincial average, and four-times the overall Barrie average. This includes 34 visits among those identifying homelessness.

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Wondering what the new era of legal cannabis might mean to you? The Barrie Police Service has released some details. Click here for a City Scene story.

Food For Thought

A couple of staff reports hit Barrie councillors’ desks this week, resulting in some revisions which may or may not mean anything at the end of the day.
A report recommending that Barrie be among the Ontario centres bidding for the opening round of pot stores was discussed by general committee, and will likely be adopted by council this coming Monday. The province is conducting a lottery for an initial 25 locations, and municipalities need to decide by Jan. 22 if they are in or out.
So, Barrie, barring unforeseen circumstances, is in and if successful in the lottery will earn the right to open one store. To be sure, more locations will follow down the road, but right now we are talking about a competition for one of 25 locations.
Sounds like a lot of fuss for not much of anything, but even so committee spent some time discussing the report’s recommendations, and adding to it. Among those recommendations is a condition that would restrict a pot store from operating closer than 300 metres from a number of “sensitive uses,” including schools, parks and open spaces, day care centres and nurseries, and locations that retail alcohol.
That would seem to put much of the city off limits to a pot store, including the downtown given the presence of a liquor store on Mary Street.
The whole exercise might be moot in any regard, as the only restriction the province has placed on retail pot locations is that they be at least 150 metres from schools. And as you may well know, the province has the last word when it comes to this sort of thing. The City can ask, but the province is under no obligation to listen.
Another decision made by committee that is likely to mean nothing is the addition of a clause to ban the smoking of pot on city sidewalks, even though it is now a legal product. Currently, the smoking of cannabis comes with the same restrictions as tobacco use, meaning it’s not allowed in parks, enclosed public places, etc.
However, as anyone who has ever attended a bar or club knows, smokers frequently gather near the front door to puff away, and the province has aligned the smoking of pot with the Smoke-Free Ontario Act, meaning that as far as the province is concerned, pot smoking can be allowed anywhere people legally smoke a cigarette.
It’s possible that Queen’s Park may be amenable to changing its rules, but I’m betting that’s not likely. At any rate, how is the City going to enforce such a restriction without more bylaw enforcement working nights and the wee hours of the morning? Could happen, but don’t hold your breath. As I understand it, there were only 12 smoking-related offences in all of last year.
The other report related to the possible privatization, either through sale or lease, of the Barrie marina. Back in 2016, council decided to take a look as to whether the City should be in the marina business at all, following some service complaints from marina patrons. To really no one’s surprise, the report recommended the marina stay in the City’s hands, saying there was no identifiable advantage to doing otherwise.
So, it’s status quo, with the possibility of some service upgrades paid for through marina surpluses; the place pays for itself, with no contributions from the overall tax base. However, one councillor did feel the need to say that the City remains open to future bids to privatize operations. If the issue does come up again, here are a couple of points to consider.

  • Although the marina is self-sustaining, it is connected to the waterfront upgrades financed by many millions of taxpayer money. So, all that taxpayer money spent to provide an attractive and convenient location to a future private operator? Doesn’t sound like much of a plan for Barrie or the taxpayers.
  • The report also suggested that a future operating model could include getting rid of the rule that prioritizes Barrie residents for marina slips. The thinking is that non-residents with bigger boats would pay more to access the marina, perhaps paying for service upgrades. Right now the marina is described as low-fee, low-service, although that is a bit misleading as marina users pay out-of-pocket for related services like winter storage and parking. When these costs are added to the mix, the marina is more of a moderate-fee, low-service model. Even so, there are relatively few complaints coming from patrons. The current model seems to work.
  • If the City did go with a model that favoured non-residents over residents, would boaters be able to buy their way in? If so, the new out-of-town boaters would gain access to a marina at the centre of a lovely waterfront paid for by city taxpayers, and a location supported by past and present patrons.

Questions, questions … the devil, after all, is in the details.

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Barrie Police are asking for the public’s assistance following two sexual assaults that were recently reported in the city’s east end.
On Wednesday, Jan. 2, at approximately 6:50 p.m., a female was walking on a pathway which is located at the north end of Cheltenham Road when she was sexually assaulted, police report. The second incident occurred on Monday, Jan. 7, at approximately 3:10 p.m. In this case, the victim was walking on a pathway on Dunsmore Lane, when she too was sexually assaulted.
The Barrie Police Service Crimes Against Persons Unit has been investigating these incidents and it is strongly believed that the same person is responsible for both of the sexual assaults. As a result of the ongoing investigation, detectives are attempting to locate an individual who is described as: 
• Male, South Asian approximately 20 years old, 5’8 to 5’10 with a large build. He has dark short hair and is unshaven.
The Barrie Police Service reminds the public to be aware of their personal safety at all times and when possible, refrain from entering secluded and poorly lit areas alone.
Anyone with information or who may have residential video surveillance is asked to contact Barrie Police Crimes Against Persons Unit at 705-725-7025, ext. 2931 or contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477), or leave an anonymous tip online at www.p3tips.com.

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Barrie police have issued a caution about selling items online and arranging to meet with a prospective buyer.
“With the holiday season behind us, many people are realizing that they have items around their homes that they may no longer require. Many of these gently used items make their way to online sites that specialize in providing a format that allows for sellers to advertise their items to potential buyers.
“Recently, a person who had advertised a mobile phone for sale agreed to meet a buyer in a large shopping plaza lot located in the City of Barrie, but at the last minute, the location was changed to an isolated, less travelled area. The seller did not feel good about agreeing to the last minute change in plans, but did so reluctantly. Unfortunately the intended buyer arrived with a friend and armed with a large knife attempted to rob the seller.
“This incident did not end in a robbery, nor did the intended seller sustain any injury, but the outcome was not something that the intended seller expected. Thankfully, when things started to go wrong, the seller, who also brought a friend, was able to call for police who were able to respond quickly to the area.”
The Barrie Police Service is reminding the public to never compromise your safety when completing a transaction and strongly recommends the following tips that will hopefully ensure your safety:
• Meet in a busy place during daylight hours.
• Meet in person to inspect the product.
• Bring a trusted friend or family member along as a witness.
• Bring a cell phone in case you need to call for help.
“If you must go alone, tell a friend or family member when and where you are meeting someone. Don’t invite a stranger into your home. It allows them access to the layout of your house, gives them information regarding alarm systems and/or dogs and provides a chance to see any valuables you may have.
“Never tell your schedule to a stranger. They do not need to know when you will not be home. Don’t erase any e-mails, texts or voicemails between yourself and the seller or buyer.

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Police seek suspects who broke into a food store, gaining access to ATM

Barrie police are seeking suspects in connection with a break and enter at a local food store and the subsequent theft from an ATM.
On Monday, Dec. 17, at 1:40 a.m., police responded to the Food Basics grocery store at 555 Essa Road to investigate a break and enter which had just occurred. From the investigation that followed, it has been determined that two suspects forced open the front sliding doors and then attended to a Bank of Montreal Automated Teller Machine (ATM), policed report.
The machine was then forcibly accessed and two black cash drawers were removed that contained an undisclosed amount of currency. The suspects then left the store and went to a nearby street where a short time later, a light coloured pickup truck was seen leaving the area. The entire incident, both inside and outside the store was captured on closed circuit television (CCTV).
The following description of the involved suspects has been obtained:
Suspect #1:
Male white, 5’9 to 6’0 tall,  wearing a black hooded sweatshirt with a white hawk on the back of the sweater, black and white Nike shoes, blue jeans and white construction gloves. Suspect #1 is observed entering the store first holding the pry bar, then using a sledge hammer that suspect #2 was holding upon entry to smash the ATM.
Suspect #2:
Male white, 5’9 to 6’0 tall, wearing a blue hooded sweatshirt with a white label on the lower center rear, blue jeans, yellow work gloves with black rubber like material on the palms and fingers, light blue running shoes.
Both males were wearing face masks during the break and enter. Anyone with information on this break, enter and theft is asked to contact Detective Constable Davies of the Barrie Police Service Street Crime Unit at 705-725-7025, ext. 2304 or by email at rdavies@barriepolice.ca.
You can also contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477), or leave an anonymous tip online at www.p3tips.com.

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Barrie police are currently seeking the location of a Barrie woman

UPDATE: The Barrie Police Service would like to thank the public for their assistance in locating Wendy Palmer. Wendy’s whereabouts and safety has been confirmed and she is no longer considered missing.

Barrie police are currently seeking the whereabouts of Wendy Palmer, 24, from Barrie.
She was reported missing after leaving home late at night on Sunday, Jan. 6, police report. They and and family are concerned for her well-being and are seeking the public’s assistance in locating her.
Wendy is described as white, approximately 5’7”, with a heavy build and short dark black hair. She has a tattoo of a wolf on her right upper arm and was last seen wearing a beige winter jacket, a black shirt, black pants, black shoes and a shoulder bag.
Anyone with information on Wendy or her whereabouts is asked to contact Barrie Police Investigative Services at 705-725-7025 ext. 2516, or to remain anonymous contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or online at www.p3tips.com.

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Allow cannabis sales in Barrie, report recommends

Wondering what the new era of legal cannabis might mean to you? The Barrie Police Service has released some details. Click here for a City Scene story.

Getting into the pot retailing business should be high on the city’s list of things to do, according to a staff report.
The report, prepared by Dawn McAlpine, general manager of community and corporate services, recommends that provincially licensed cannabis stores be allowed to sell their wares in the city, and that if the recommendation takes root, a third of any funding coming from the province go to “increased costs associated with road safety and illegal cannabis storefront enforcement.”
The other two-thirds, says the report, should go to funding additional resources, including “increasing the number of Municipal Law Enforcement Officers as deemed appropriate to address matters related to smoking regulations.”
Other identified resources include litigation and prosecutorial research, and additional court resources to address charge volume.
Cannabis became legal Oct. 17 of last year. The previous Liberal provincial government was preparing a system whereby cannabis would be sold from provincial stores, but when elected the Doug Ford government elected to have cannabis sales handled through private retail locations. Municipalities can decide to opt-in/out of the system, saying yes or no to selling cannabis within their boundaries. They have to decide if they are in or out by Jan. 22.
“The Smoke-Free Ontario Act, 2017 and the Cannabis Act, 2017 were amended to clarify where the smoking and vaping medicinal and recreational cannabis is permitted as well as where it is prohibited, such as in enclosed public places and enclosed workplaces, vehicles and boats,” states the report.
“The maximum fine for using cannabis in a prohibited place would be $1,000 for a first offence, and $5,000 for a subsequent offence, the same fines that apply to smoking tobacco or using an electronic cigarette in a prohibited place.”
Retail stores will be required to be “stand-alone” locations, open 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. seven days a week. Employees will need to be trained to conduct “responsible sales.” The government is planning a lottery to “determine who is eligible for the initial cannabis retail store licences to legally operate in Ontario … municipalities and the public (will have) a 15-day notification period of a proposed store site to receive public input,” says the report.
In recommending cannabis sales in Barrie, the report says that if the City opts-out, “individuals seeking to legally purchase cannabis would be required to use the online platform to acquire it. Given the timing for delivery, cannabis use would need to be pre-planned well in advance.
“If individuals had not pre-planned their purchase, they may turn to the illegal market to obtain cannabis. The individuals would then be subject to significant risk associated with the often contaminated and unregulated product that is sourced from criminal organizations.
“The intent of a legalized product and sales is to combat this criminal market and reduce access for youth, one of the groups the most at risk from the harms of cannabis.”
The report says that in the interest of public health and safety, cannabis stores should not be permitted in the following:
• Areas that already have a high concentration of such stores or with retail outlets selling alcohol (ie. “clustering” of stores should be avoided)
• Locations that have insufficient parking or transit access
• Locations that are not pedestrian-friendly
• Locations that are on residentially zoned lands or within 50 metres of residentially zoned lands. 
Cannabis legislation mandates that retail stores be at least 150 metres away from schools, however the report says “in order to help ensure public health and safety, protect youth and reduce illegal sales,” pot stores should not be located within 300 metres of the following sensitive uses that are designed to serve youth and/or vulnerable populations: 
• Schools 
• A Georgian College location
• Parks and Open Spaces
• Addiction facilities such as Alcohol and Detox Treatment Centres/Clinics
• Day Nurseries/Child Care Centres
• Libraries
• Community Centres/Arenas
• Mental Health/Addiction. 
The City is due to receive a payment of $136,869 from the province this month, if it opts-in, and only $5,000 if it opts-out. If the City is in, it will receive a second payment on a per-household basis.

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Barrie police investigate fail to remain

The Barrie Police Service is appealing to the public for assistance after a fail-to-remain collision occurred in the City of Barrie, Friday, Jan. 4 about 11:29 p.m
At that time police responded to a report of a fail-to-remain collision that occurred on Hickling Trail. From the investigation that followed, it was apparent that while attempting to turn around on the street and travelling at a high rate of speed, the vehicle was unable to do so, lost control and struck an electrical transformer and a tree.
The involved motor vehicle, which is believed to be a white Ford Crown Victoria, left the scene with what is described as extensive front end damage and was occupied by two males.
Anyone with information on this fail to remain is asked to contact Constable Casey of the Barrie Police Service Traffic Unit at 705-725-7025, ext. 2918 or by email at mcasey@barriepolice.ca. You can also contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477), or leave an anonymous tip online at www.p3tips.com.

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The Waterfront & Marina Strategic Plan also recommended maintaining public ownership and operation of the marina.

A staff report investigating the potential privatization, either through lease, sale or outsourcing management, of the Barrie Marina recommends not entering those waters as they offer no clear advantage for the City.
Rather, the report, prepared by Gus Diamantopoulos, manager of corporate facility services, presents an alternative operating strategy for the marina, which includes the potential for it to become a “higher service marina,” in part by removing restrictions that prevent non-residents from getting a slip.
“There is demand for slips in the Barrie marina from non-residents who own larger more expensive boats. These boaters are willing to pay higher rates based on the size of boat provided that marina amenities more closely match those of other marinas in the area,” reads the report. 
“These enhanced amenities include wi-fi, winter haul-out and storage services, laundry facilities, upgraded dedicated washroom and shower facilities plus community space for barbecues and member get-togethers.”
However, the report recommends no action on this alternative yet, as “staff are continuing to investigate these opportunities.”
In addition to the alternative operating strategy, the report presented three other options: leasing the marina as a public/private partnership, selling the marina to a private operator, and outsourcing marina operations to a management firm.
Requests for expressions of interest received no responses for selling or leasing the marina, and one from an American marina management operator.
The report is in response to a May 9, 2016 motion that called on staff to “investigate and update the feasibility of privatizing the City of Barrie Marina and/or Marina operations through lease or sale and report back” to general committee.” 
Also, during the Barrie Waterfront & Marina Strategic Plan, Baird & Associates were asked to specifically comment about the advisability of selling or leasing the Marina to the private sector. The following is an excerpt from the Baird & Associates Plan, states the report.
“In our view, there would be no significant advantages to the City. Given the marina’s central placement in the waterfront and the opportunities that surround it for future public benefits, the disadvantages associated with losing control outweigh any benefits.” 
The Waterfront & Marina Strategic Plan also recommended maintaining public ownership and operation of the marina. This recommendation was accepted by council through motion 13-G-274.
The City has managed the marina since 1971. Prior to that, it was leased to a series of private operators with the City being responsible for all capital investment and renewal, with the primary focus being to provide “seasonal marina services to Barrie residents for small to mid-sized boats, and transient boat slips for visitors.” 
Staff refer to it as a low-fee, low-service marina compared to other such facilities in the region. 
“On average the City marina fees are 20 to 40 per cent lower than other local marinas. The marina offers the basic services essential to the boating community including a gas dock, waste pump-out, boat launch, potable water supply, shore power and minimal restroom/shower facilities.”
However, the report doesn’t go into the additional costs marina patrons pay, including winter storage, parking, lift in/out, that are covered by fees paid at other marinas. These additional out-of-pocket expenses bring the overall costs of keeping a boat at the Barrie marina closer to the fees paid at other marinas which include such services in overall costs.
The marina is self-sufficient, with all operating and capital costs coming through fees and at no cost to the “tax fund.” It operates with an annual surplus. Weaknesses identified include distance from the Trent-Severn system and related boat traffic, limited boater amenities, lack of parking, lack of winter storage, and limited capacity to accommodate larger boats.
Opportunities detailed include rate increases to support upgrades to the marina and “immediate vicinity,” expanding launch, pump-out fees, and masting fees to all users; currently, only non-residents are charged a launch fee.  
Other opportunities identified include expanding services, including wi-fi, laundry facilities, winter storage and commercial opportunities.
“A broad range of commercial opportunities including sailing and fishing charters could be supported out of the marina.”
Threats listed include access to capital and resistance from marina users. “There is a general resistance from the marina’s current seasonal lessees, 98 per cent of which are City of Barrie residents, to pay more than a marginal rate increase for an enhanced level of service.”

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