The City was notified Friday that a Barrie Transit operator has received a positive COVID-19 test result. The bus operator is following public health directions and isolating. All buses are thoroughly cleaned and sanitized after service each day and receive additional mid-day sanitization to further improve safety measures. Barrie Transit is not aware of any workplace transmission at this time. As the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit advises on an ongoing basis, everyone in the community should follow health unit guidelines, self-monitor, and get tested if they have COVID-19 symptoms. “Barrie Transit continues to do everything we can to ensure a safe environment for our riders and employees,” says Brent Forsyth, Director of Transit and Parking Strategy. “We wish the affected driver well and hope they are feeling better soon.” Since the beginning of the pandemic, Barrie Transit has taken extra precautions to keep employees and riders safe and continues to follow the direction of the Health Unit. These measures include: • plexiglass shield around the driver • at least six feet of space between the driver and the first seat on the bus • enhanced cleaning and disinfecting of vehicles • requirement for masks in public areas • hand sanitizers on all vehicles • capacity limitations to support physical distancing • active screening of all employees completed on a daily basis • protocols in place that eliminates the requirement for physical contact between drivers and riders Everyone using Barrie Transit should remember to follow public health measures to keep everyone safe, including staying home when sick, wearing a mask in indoor public places, including on public transit, washing your hands frequently or using alcohol-based hand sanitizer, staying two metres apart from other riders when possible, and getting tested for COVID-19 if you have any symptoms.
The Barrie Police Service acknowledges that over the past several weekends, protests against COVID restrictions have taken place in Barrie. Our officers have been present and have monitored the situation to ensure public safety. With the recent provincial stay-at-home order, rising COVID case numbers and increasing pressures on hospitals locally and across Ontario, it is now more important than ever to ensure we are doing everything we can to protect the health of ourselves, our loved ones, and our community members. While we recognize the right to participate in demonstrations, we are requesting that people abide by and respect provincial orders and public health guidelines that have been implemented to protect everyone, and refrain from gathering. Outdoor organized public events are restricted to essential purposes and are limited to five people. Where necessary, the Barrie Police Service is committed to ensuring that provincial orders are followed, and community safety and public health measures are respected.
“Given increasing case counts and widespread community transmission across many parts of the province, we are facing mounting and extreme pressure on our critical care capacity. We are instructing hospitals to ramp down all elective surgeries and non-emergent/urgent activities in order to preserve critical care and human resource capacity.” – Ontario Health President and CEO Matthew Anderson
The number of new COVID-19 cases, 4,227, reported in Ontario today is the second highest ever recorded since the beginning of the pandemic, bringing the province’s total to 378,339 and 7,512 deaths. The Province also reports that 1,492 people are in hospitals being treated for COVID-19, an increase of 75 from Thursday. Of those, 552 are in intensive care units (ICUs), up by 27, with 359 patients on a ventilator, an increase of 28 from the previous day. And in a development that underscores the seriousness of the situation, Ontario Health President and CEO Matthew Anderson sent a memo to Ontario hospitals on Thursday telling them to “ramp down” all but emergency and non-essential surgeries because of the surge in COVID-19 cases. “Given increasing case counts and widespread community transmission across many parts of the province, we are facing mounting and extreme pressure on our critical care capacity,” he writes in the memo obtained by The Scene. “We are instructing hospitals to ramp down all elective surgeries and non-emergent/urgent activities in order to preserve critical care and human resource capacity.” Keeping pressure off Ontario’s hospitals has been the focus of masking-and-distancing measures since the start of the pandemic. Those measures include four closures of varying degrees, including the current stay-at-home order. Last week, Dr. Adalsteinn Brown, co-chair of the Ontario COVID-19 science table, said the virus, and new strains such as the B.1.1.7 strain first identified in the United Kingdom, has gained the upper hand. “With the new variants which are both more contagious and more dangerous, we are seeing situations where whole families end up in intensive care, all at the same time. This gets much more challenging because of the pressure that is already hitting our intensive care units. Even as people are fighting for their lives, we have to separate families. Ambulances and helicopters are moving them to other regions that have a spare bed,” said Brown. Last December the Ontario Hospital Association (OHA) issued a statement calling for immediate action on rising COVID-19 numbers, saying hospitals were “working diligently to catch up on approximately 150,000 scheduled surgeries cancelled in the first wave of the pandemic.” In the memo, Anderson says the “ramp down instruction” does not apply to Northern Ontario or pediatric specialty hospitals. “Additionally, for some hospitals in low COVID-19 areas, very limited ambulatory services may continue, recognizing that immediate ramp down may be required,” he continues. The memo also advises that “going forward” a request might be made for workers/teams to support care in other parts of the system. “We will be asking you (hospital CEOs) to identify available staff who might be redeployed to sites requiring support and for receiving sites to help integrate these staff members into their teams.” Anderson continues that Ontarians depend on healthcare workers to continue their important work. “We know that patients continue to need essential primary care services, including cancer screening and immunizations, in addition to your COVID-19 response efforts … thank you for continuing to meet the primary care needs of your patients. These are very difficult and challenging times for all Ontarians, and we understand that deferring scheduled care will have an impact on patients and their families and caregivers.”
The Government of Ontario has declared a state of emergency and a stay-at-home order for the entire province, effective at 12:01 a.m. on Thursday, April 8. This order will remain in place for four weeks. As well, a provincial shutdown remains in effect for the province. A state of emergency, which has been in place for over a year, remains in effect for the City of Barrie. The Provincial stay-at-home order requires everyone to remain at home and only leave for essential purposes, such as going to the grocery store or pharmacy, attending school or essential work, accessing health care services, or for outdoor exercise. All travel should be avoided. Please note the following is subject to additional input or further restrictions by the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit. The following measures are part of the Provincial stay-at-home order, but are not limited to: • All non-essential retail stores are closed but can offer curb-side pickup and delivery, via appointment, between the hours of 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. Big box and discount stores can be open for selling essential items only • Restaurants remain closed but can offer take-out, drive-through and delivery • Outdoor public gatherings are still restricted to a limit of five people. Wearing a mask or face covering is recommended outdoors when you cannot maintain physical distance • Businesses must ensure that any employee who can work from home, does work from home • Immunization clinics remain open What does this mean for Barrie residents? The following framework outlines the City services affected as part of the stay-at-home order. Previous measures remain in effect for City services and now also include the following: City Hall: • City Hall is closed but the City’s customer service centre, Service Barrie, remains open for pre-booked, in-person appointments. Call 705-726-4242 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to book an appointment. Residents are encouraged to use the City’s online services as much as possible Development Services: • The Planner of the Day is available to answer planning related questions online or by phone only. Email email@example.com or call 705-726-4242 Barrie Public Library: • The Barrie Public Library remains closed for in-person visits. Express pick-up of materials, online programs and coaching sessions, wireless and remote printing services, and access to the Digital Library continue. Returns are accepted at both outdoor return slots 24/7 Landfill: • The landfill remains open with a reduced capacity (10 vehicles at a time). Please wear a mask and keep two metres away from others while visiting the landfill For the most up-to-date information on the status of City services, visit barrie.ca/services. The City encourages residents to support local and take advantage of curb-side pickup. To learn more about the supports available to businesses through the pandemic, visit barrie.ca/SupportforBusiness. City staff continue to take reports regarding violations at 705-739-4241 firstname.lastname@example.org. For detailed and up-to-date information on the local vaccination plan, visit the Health Unit’s website.
Golfers, gardeners, and fans of farmers’ markets will all be breathing a sigh of relief that Ontario’s new stay-at-home order won’t apply to them, and that they will be able to continue enjoying some of their favourite pastimes. COVID-19 distancing and mask protocols remain in place, but the Province seems to have determined that fresh air and exercise are worth a few gaps in the stay-at-home order. Other locales that can continue to do business, although not as usual, include: • Safety supply stores • Businesses that primarily sell, rent or repair assistive devices, aids or supplies, mobility devices, aids or supplies or medical devices, aids or supplies • Rental and leasing services including automobile, commercial and light industrial machinery and equipment rental • Optical stores that sell prescription eyewear to the public • Businesses that sell motor vehicles, boats and other watercraft • Vehicle and equipment repair and essential maintenance and vehicle and equipment rental services • Retail stores operated by a telecommunications provider or service, which may only permit members of the public to enter the premises to purchase a cellphone or for repairs or technical support. The Barrie Marina also intends to open for business on time. “The City of Barrie Marina is scheduled to open on Saturday, May 1. Unless further COVID-19 restrictions imposed by the provincial or local governments delay our opening, we should enjoy a full boating season while adhering to all social distancing measures imposed by the marina,” Rob Walters, Supervisor of Facilities Marina and Waterfront, wrote in an email to marina patrons. Premier Doug Ford announced the new stay-at-home order on Wednesday, citing rising COVID-19 cases driven by variants, and subsequent pressures on hospitals and intensive care units (ICUs). “The reality is, despite everything we have done so far, the COVID-19 situation in Ontario is getting worse as these new variants continue to spread. Our hospitals are reaching capacity and patients in the GTA must now be sent to other parts of the province for care,” the premier said. “In fact, we learned yesterday morning that admissions to ICUs in the past week are increasing faster than the worst-case scenarios predicted by our experts.” Today (Thursday), the Province reported 3,295 new cases of COVID-19, and 19 more deaths. It was the highest daily jump since Jan. 19. Numbers have consistently been around the 3,000 mark; on Wednesday, 3,215 were reported, Tuesday saw 3,065 new cases reported, 2,938 on Monday, 3,041 Sunday, 3009 on Saturday, and 3,089 on Friday. The Province is also reporting that as of today, there are 1,417 people in hospitals being treated for COVID-19, with 496 of them in ICUs.
It’s official, Ontario is moving back into shutdown mode, effective Saturday at midnight. Premier Doug Ford confirmed reports that new restrictive measures are coming to deal with a surge in COVID-19 cases, driven by new variants, particularly the B.1.1.7 strain first identified in the United Kingdom. Ford said Thursday the province is facing a very serious situation. “As premier … I am the one who has to make the tough decisions. Today, I need to make one of those tough decisions. Effective Saturday, April 3 at 12:01 a.m. Ontario will pull the emergency brake for the entire province. All 34 public health regions will move into shutdown for a period of four weeks.” He said the move is required to control the pandemic’s third wave. “Friends, right now we are into a third wave of COVID-19. The variants of concern are spreading rapidly. This is a new pandemic, we are now fighting a new enemy. The new variants are far more dangerous than before. They spread faster and they do more harm than the virus we were fighting last year. “Younger people are ending up in the hospital and with these new variants, the risk of ICU admissions is two times higher, the risk of death is one and a half times higher, and today we have 2,557 confirmed new cases of COVID-19 in the province. We are now seeing a nearly 14 per cent increase in hospitalizations, with COVID-19 patients in ICUs increasing dramatically. In fact, we have never had more Ontarians in intensive care than we do today.” It will mean yet another closure impacting businesses, particularly bars and restaurants which have already endured three shutdowns, and will now have to get through a fourth that is set to run for a month. Under the shutdown rules, indoor and patio service is being suspended, with take-out, delivery, and drive-through the only services permitted. However, other businesses will be able to maintain some level of operation. Supermarkets and other stores that primarily sell groceries, convenience stores, and pharmacies can operate at 50 percent capacity, while all other retail including discount and big box retailers, liquor stores, cannabis stores, hardware stores and garden centres, will be able to stay open with 25 percent capacity. The new restrictions will no doubt disappoint owners of bars and restaurants, who had been looking forward to a busy patio season (scheduled to open this weekend with the City’s Patio’s Everywhere program) to kick off a successful spring and summer season. Many establishments were busy this week opening their patios. One such proprietor, Sarah-Lynne Maloney of Malones Pint House on Bradford Street, told The Scene recently that the worst experience of the previous closures was the impact on staff. “Having to lay somebody off is probably the worst thing that I have ever had to do … having to tell someone you are laying them off because you don’t know when you are going to open again is humiliating for a small-business owner. You feel like you are defeated, like you have done something wrong. It’s awful,” she said. “It’s very difficult for me on a personal level. I don’t sleep at night wondering how people are going to make ends meet.” She described the impact of COVID-19 as devastating emotionally and financially, pointing out that local bars and restaurants are strictly adhering to distancing, division, tracing, and sanitary measures mandated to keep staff and customers safe, adding that not one case of COVID-19 has been linked to her business. The health unit’s reporting puts the region’s hospitality sector at the low end of COVID-19 outbreak spectrum. “It irritates me that small businesses have gone above and beyond, and we aren’t allowed to open … that’s ridiculous.” Mayor Jeff Lehman was among community leaders who expressed similar sentiments. “While large chain businesses have a corporate framework to support them, small businesses must sink or swim on their own. If all retail environments are able to remain open with reduced capacity, there seems little reason why other small businesses cannot remain open with the same protective measures in place.” And in a letter to Ford, the Greater Barrie Chamber of Commerce joined with other business groups to urge the Province to rework its colour-coded framework for operating under COVID-19 restrictions, moving away from the “blunt tool” of restrictions. Ford added the grants to support small businesses remain available, and he encouraged eligible businesses to apply for them.
“This is not only a more contagious disease … it’s also a more dangerous disease. In the first and second waves when we were dealing with the earlier variants (that) had been first identified in China, for every 10 patients we might have expected to be hospitalized, now we are expecting to see 16 patients hospitalized. In the previous first and second waves, if we expected to see 10 ICU admissions, we now expect to see 20 ICU admissions among those same sort of groups. And when we are thinking about deaths, where we might have expected to see 10 deaths, we will now see 15 deaths.” – Dr. Adalsteinn Brown
With the province poised to move into yet another shutdown in a bid to clamp down on third-wave COVID-19 infections, driven largely by new variants of the virus, we are in a race against time trying to get people vaccinated, and we are behind in that race. This morning, Dr. Adalsteinn Brown, co-chair of the Ontario COVID-19 science table, presented some chilling examples of the damage caused by new variants of the virus, notably the B.1.1.7 strain first identified in the United Kingdom, on families, children and youth, and the healthcare stystem. “We cannot vaccinate quickly enough to break this third wave. This is the challenge of the new variants. Whole families are now showing up in intensive care. It used to be that one family member, often an older parent or grandparent, would be in an intensive care unit while other members of the family would have caught a much milder form of the disease, if at all,” he said. “But with the new variants which are both more contagious and more dangerous, we are seeing situations where whole families end up in intensive care, all at the same time. This gets much more challenging because of the pressure that is already hitting our intensive care units. Even as people are fighting for their lives, we have to separate families. Ambulances and helicopters are moving them to other regions that have a spare bed.” Premier Doug Ford is due to make an announcement today at 1:30 on new measures, but it is already being reported that he will move the province into the shutdown level of the Province’s colour-coded plan. It’s expected that the new restrictions will be in place Saturday, lasting 28 days and shutting down down bars and restaurant for indoor and patio dining, as well as services like salons and gyms. Non-essential stores are expected to be able to remain open at reduced levels. It’s expected that the measures for the province will be similar to what is now in place for Hamilton, Toronto, Sudbury, and Thunder Bay. The response is being driven by a surge of COVID-19 patients in Ontario hospitals. New cases have jumped sharply since mid-March. Ontario reported 2,557 new cases today (Monday, April 1); there are now 1,111 patients with COVID-19 in hospitals across the province, with 396 in intensive care units (ICUs) and 256 on ventilators, the highest number since the start of the pandemic. The virus is taking a toll on families and the healthcare system, said Brown. “One family ended up spread between three hospitals, one in Simcoe, one in Toronto, and an adult child on a ventilator in the third city. Another family ended up spread between three cities, three different hospitals, and all of them died,” he said. New strains of the virus are hitting younger, healthier people, he added. “Over four days last week, one of the physicians we talked to described critical-care notes on a dozen patients fighting COVID-19, all of which said no past medical history, no medications, no allergies, and so on. Almost all of the patients described in these notes were under the age of 65. This doctor worked through the brunt of the first and second waves, and he told us very clearly that even at the worst of these times, he hadn’t seen this many young, otherwise healthy people fighting for their lives against COVID-19.” Although the third wave is different than the earlier ones, what isn’t different are the tools available to combat the disease, he continued. Vaccination is key to long-term control, but relying in that alone isn’t enough, he said. “Vaccination alone is not enough … the best weapons we have for short-term control are the public heath measures like masks, physical distancing and hand hygiene, staying outside if you need to meet people, and as a last resort stay-at-home orders. These measures only work if people understand them and can follow them. These measures are the key to the control of the pandemic now and the time that we need to vaccinate more Ontarians.” He called the debate about a balance between public health measures and the economy a false one. “The faster we get the pandemic under control, the faster we return to normal, and partial measures, half-hearted adherence and denial prolong the pandemic and make life harder for everyone. This is particularly true for children and for youth.” New data Brown presented suggests and confirms: • third wave is being driven by variants of concern • younger people ending up in hospitals • risk of ICU admission is two times higher and risk of death is 1.5 times higher for the B.1.1.7 variant • COVID-19 threatens healthcare system’s ability to deal with regular ICU admissions • vaccination is not reaching the highest-risk communities, delaying its impact as an effective strategy • school disruptions have a significant and highly inequitable impact on students, parents and society. Further disruptions should be minimized • stay at home orders will control the surge, protect access to care, and increase the chance of the summer Ontarians want. • Cases are increasing in most of the public health units, above the red-control level in most units • testing positivity is at 4.7 per cent in Ontario, with a high of 8.6 per cent in Peel • testing numbers are flat so it is not a result of testing • If nothing is done, new daily cases could reach 12,000 by the end of April “This is not only a more contagious disease … it’s also a more dangerous disease. In the first and second waves when we were dealing with the earlier variants (that) had been first identified in China, for every 10 patients we might have expected to be hospitalized, now we are expecting to see 16 patients hospitalized,” said Brown. “In the previous first and second waves, if we expected to see 10 ICU admissions, we now expect to see 20 ICU admissions among those same sort of groups. And when we are thinking about deaths, where we might have expected to see 10 deaths, we will now see 15 deaths.”
With Ontario preparing to move back into stay-at-home mode, some good news on the vaccination front: The Province is moving to the second phase of its vaccine rollout, meaning Simcoe/Muskoka residents 60 and over can start receiving the virus-fighting jab. Following an announcement yesterday from the Province about the second phase, the Simcoe/Muskoka District Health Unit tweeted that the 60-and-over crowd can begin booking their appointments through Ontario’s online portal. The site provides two booking options: first, through the Ontario call centre, and the second from a participating pharmacy. If going the pharmacy route, you will be getting the AstraZeneca shot. The Pfizer or Moderna vaccines are available through the call centre. A valid health card is needed to book through the call centre, and a health card or other form of government-issued identification for the pharmacy shot. The unit says it is reviewing details of the Province’s announcement, and will update its website soon. Across Simcoe/Muskoka, the health unit is reporting 116 new cases for the current week. There were 444 new cases reported last week (week of March 28), 44 per cent higher than the 308 cases reported for the week of March 21. “On March 15, Ontario launched its provincial booking system and call centre to support COVID-19 vaccination appointment bookings at mass immunization clinics,” the Province announced yesterday. “The system has already supported the immunization of other groups identified in Phase Two, including individuals aged 70 and over, with many public health units using the provincial booking system to offer appointments to individuals aged 60 and over beginning on April 7, 2021 at 8:00 a.m. Public health units that are currently not on the provincial booking system and wish to use the system will continue to be onboarded throughout the month.” The Province will also be focusing vaccination efforts on ‘hot spot’ areas that have been disproportionately impacted by the virus. Its goal is to have more than nine million Ontarians receive a first jab between April and the end of June.
Premier Doug Ford expected to announce new restrictions
Premier Doug Ford is scheduled to hold a news conference today at 2 p.m., and it is being reported that he will announce a new stay-at-home order in response to increasing COVID-19 cases and the impact that is having on hospital intensive care units (ICUs). It’s anticipated the new restrictions will take hold 12:01 a.m. on Thursday, and remain in place for at least a month. If reports are accurate, all non-essential retail stores will close with curb-side pickup only; stores that sell groceries will remain only, but only for the purchase of grocery items. Garden centres are also expected to remain open, according to reports. The anticipated order arrives as doctors, nurses, and other healthcare personnel maintain that the current shutdown level is not enough to curb the growth of the virus, particularly the B.1.1.7 strain first identified in the United Kingdom. Last week Dr. Adalsteinn Brown, co-chair of the Ontario COVID-19 science table said it was not possible to vaccinate our way out of the third wave. “This is the challenge of the new variants. Whole families are now showing up in intensive care. It used to be that one family member, often an older parent or grandparent, would be in an intensive care unit while other members of the family would have caught a much milder form of the disease, if at all,” he said. “But with the new variants which are both more contagious and more dangerous, we are seeing situations where whole families end up in intensive care, all at the same time. This gets much more challenging because of the pressure that is already hitting our intensive care units. Even as people are fighting for their lives, we have to separate families. Ambulances and helicopters are moving them to other regions that have a spare bed.” The Province logged another 3,065 new cases of COVID-19 Tuesday, 2,938 on Monday, 3,041 Sunday, 3009 on Saturday, and 3,089 on Friday. The seven-day rolling average of new cases sits at 2,862, while a week ago it was 2,207. The positivity rate jumped to 8.9 on Tuesday, up from 7.8 the day before. According to the World Health Organization, the positivity rate should be below five percent for at least two weeks for restrictions to be eased/avoided.
Record number of patients being treated in ICUs for COVID-19
The Ministry of Health reports that 1,162 people are battling the virus in Ontario hospitals, with a record 510 being treated in ICUs, of which 310 are on ventilators. Across Simcoe/Muskoka, the health unit is reporting: • 1,084 local cases have been tested positive for the COVID-19 variant of concern UK B.1.1.7 (UK), 18 cases have tested positive for the P.1 variant of concern (Brazil), one case has tested positive for the B.1.351 variant of concern (South Africa), and an additional 374 cases have screened positive (awaiting confirmatory testing). • There have been 116 new cases reported to the health unit for the current week. There were 444 new cases reported to the health unit last week (week of March 28th), which was 44 per cent higher than the 308 cases reported for the week of March 21. • More than 109,500 doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in Simcoe Muskoka. This includes over 18,000 individuals who have received both of the required doses of the vaccine. • In March, 12 Simcoe Muskoka residents died from COVID-19. There has been one COVID-19 death so far in April. • There are currently four active school outbreaks: W.H. Day Public School in Bradford, Good Shepherd Catholic School in Barrie, Boyne River Public School in Alliston and Holy Trinity Catholic High School in Bradford. • As of March 28, the reproductive rate (Rt) stood at 1.5 percent, with the positivity rate being 4.8. “The effective reproductive number for a given period of time or Rt is the average number of secondary cases that a new case will infect. If Rt is greater than one it indicates that the spread of COVID-19 in Simcoe Muskoka is growing, and if Rt is less than one, the spread of COVID-19 is slowing and containment/mitigation efforts may be working to keep the outbreak under control,” explains the unit
“Through contact tracing and a comprehensive investigation, the Simcoe-Muskoka District Health Unit has verified that our service has implemented all the necessary precautions to contain the outbreak and spread of the virus.” – Police chief Kimberley Greenwood
The Simcoe/Muskoka District Health Unit has declared a workplace outbreak in the Barrie Police Service after two members contracted COVID-19 over the weekend. The members, who work in a small and very specialized unit, tested positive for COVID-19, says the service. A workplace outbreak is defined when two or more cases from a workplace are reported within 48 hours. The affected members have experienced only mild symptoms and there is no report of serious illness. Since the beginning of the COVID -19 pandemic, the service says it has undertaken very stringent practices to ensure the safety of its members and the community. “Through contact tracing and a comprehensive investigation, the Simcoe-Muskoka District Health Unit has verified that our service has implemented all the necessary precautions to contain the outbreak and spread of the virus. The two members have not had close contact with the public and there is no risk to the community of contracting the virus from them,” said Chief of Police Kimberley Greenwood. The service has more than adequate staffing levels in place to respond to any call for service and encourages the community to follow the guidelines set out by public health officials to stop the spread of this virus, says Greenwood.
Georgian College researchers, innovators, scholars and entrepreneurs will explore the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on all facets of society at the 5th annual RISE event from April 6 to 9. The overarching theme for RISE 2021 is Rise Today for Tomorrow. Live speaker sessions, held virtually, will feature topics that focus on the now like coping with lockdown, mental health, wellness, motivation, and stories from frontline health-care workers. They will also include topics that focus on the future, such as tools and strategies to move forward, resiliency, plus learning and change. The diverse line-up of speakers will acknowledge the challenges and stress the pandemic has brought to our schools, communities and countries around the world, as well as infuse a sense of hope for what’s ahead. “RISE 2021 is more than an online conference,” said Dr. Mira Ray, Director of Research and Innovation at Georgian College. “There are some exciting activities that will enhance the attendee experience including a toolkit box full of unique swag for the first 400 RISE registrants, and a gamification element where you can participate in a code word scavenger hunt to win the grand prize.” Dr. Ray added that the virtual format has opened all sorts of new opportunities to share work by students, faculty and staff, and applied research projects done in collaboration with industry and community partners. “Our research and innovation department is proud to sponsor the first annual Innov8 Awards to recognize excellence in research, innovation and changemaking ideas happening across the college,” said Dr. Ray. “It’s a chance for current students and alumni to show off their projects to people outside their class or program. They should be proud of the work they’ve done and are excited to share it with everyone.” RISE 2021 participants can expect to: • see how students are changing the world • connect with inspiring guest speakers • explore the 3D Click and Shop Marketplace • participate in engaging workshops • view Innov8 Award presentations submitted by students and/or student teams • be part of creativity and collaboration without borders| • and more This year, attendees have the chance to experience other signature Georgian events typically held separately from RISE. The Manufacturing Innovation Summit, sponsored by the Business Development Bank of Canada, will take place on the first day of RISE 2021. Participants can join forward-thinking manufacturing leaders to share ideas and take away practical insights to harness the power of innovation. Georgian’s annual Big Data Insights Conference is also part of RISE 2021.The student-led event showcases coursework and research being done in the Big Data Analytics graduate certificate program. Participants can attend informative sessions geared toward the theme of Ransomware: With Big Data Come Big Responsibilities. The week-long schedule of events includes engaging guest speakers from around the world, live sessions that will make attendees think critically, and research showcases that will demonstrate the innovation happening across the college. There will be a different keynote speaker each day of the conference: • April 6: Dr. Angela Aujila, Professor, Georgian College – Equity, Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace • April 7: Dr. Jim Stanford, Economist and Director of the Centre for Future Work in Australia – The Unequal Pandemic: Why COVID-19’s Effects on Work Were so Unfair, and How to Repair the Damage • April 8: Dr. Jose Ortiz, OBGYN and epidemiologist from Guatemala, will be joined by Jennifer Kluszczynski, Manager of the ICU at Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre in Barrie, to share their COVID-19 experiences from opposite sides of the world • April 9: Leah Zaidi, an award-winning futurist and founder of Multiverse Design – a foresight consultancy based in Toronto, will provide resources and tools on How to Think Like a Futurist The public is welcome to attend this free event. The full schedule and information on how you can register is on the RISE 2021website.
The annual report on renumeration and expenses paid to members of council and related committees is out, coming in at $654,962.74 for 2020. Mayor Jeff Lehman tops the list with a $124,690.44 yearly honoraria and a $6,000 car allowance, for $130,690.44. The mayor is also paid $48,750 for being a director of Alectra Inc, and collected $3,489.18 in expenses, for a total yearly sum of $182,931.62. Councillors are paid a base honoraria of $40,484.22, plus a car allowance and expenses. Ward 4 councillor Barrie Ward, who in addition to the base wage received a $3,300 car allowance for a total of $48,976.50. Most councillors took a car allowance of $2,100. When it came to expenses, Ward 9 councillor Sergio Morales received $5,875.212, followed by Ward 7 councillor Gary Harvey at $5,233.64, and Ward 10 councillor Mike McCann at $4,472.64. Ward 8 councillor Jim Harris was on the other end of the spectrum at $291.11. “Council expenses include the costs associated with attending events on behalf of the City, hosting guests, communication materials and travel related expenses,” reads a memo to council. “Included in council expenses are costs reimbursed to council members for attending the annual Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) conference, which was held virtually this year, and paid out of the Council Conference account. No other conferences were attended in 2020. Also included in council expenses are those costs reimbursed to the mayor for attending FCM (Federation of Canadian Municipalities) conferences and board meetings in his role as a member of the FCM Board of Directors.”
Those looking to gain skills for entry into the construction trades can start building an in-demand career with Georgian College free pre-apprenticeship programs at the Muskoka Campus. The campus is offering two streams this year to help address demand for workers in the skilled trades, which are a significant job creator in the region. They include a carpentry, plumbing and electrical pre-apprenticeship starting April 19, and a carpentry, construction small engines and heating, ventilation and air conditioning pre-apprenticeship starting July 12. Muskoka Campus Associate Dean Mac Greaves said the programs are ideal for those seeking to enter the skilled trades, but who need additional training and support. “The construction trades pre-apprenticeship programs at the Muskoka Campus will help those interested in pursuing careers in the skilled trades, but don’t know where or how to start,” said Greaves. “It will also help provide pathways to apprenticeship programs.” These programs will be offered through a combination of remote and in-person learning. Any in-person classes will follow the safety protocols as outlined by the provincial government and local public health units. In addition to hands-on learning, students will receive first aid, WHMIS and working at heights training, and such soft skills as communication, teamwork and personal management. This will help them connect to a robust job market and meet entrance requirements for the construction trades. Job search skills, job and trade readiness planning, and a paid 12-week work placement are also included. Huntsville’s Rikki Austin completed the carpentry, plumbing and electrical pre-apprenticeship in 2019 and said her time in the program was an unforgettable and incredible once-in-a-lifetime experience. “My time at Georgian and in the pre-apprenticeship program was great,” said Austin. “Staff are super-friendly, the teachers are knowledgeable, and we learned on the latest equipment. I’m excited for the next class because I know their future will change the way mine did.” Austin worked for a construction company in Muskoka after finishing the program, but recently moved out east to partner in an existing renovation business. Other graduates have either gone on to post-secondary programs at the college, or have secured employment and are currently working in the field. The deadline to submit applications for carpentry, plumbing and electrical is April 12. Registration for carpentry, construction small engines and heating, ventilation and air conditioning opens in May. Applicants must be 16 years of age or older, a Canadian citizen or landed immigrant, and not already registered as an apprentice. Email email@example.com for more information and a link to the application form.
Construction workers will be back on Dunlop Street as early as April 5 for some finishing touches and repair work to the recent Dunlop Streetscape Project. This type of work is a normal part of construction. All projects have a warranty period to allow time to review the project area for repair work and have them fixed. The provincial shutdown which was announced today will not impact this work. Work will begin at Five Points, on the north side of the road, and move easterly to Mulcaster Street. Work will be focused between Five Points and Mulcaster Street and is anticipated to be completed in this area by Friday, May 28, weather dependent. Work will occur on the north side of the road from one end to the other before moving to the south side of the road. The areas outside of Five Points to Mulcaster Street which includes Mulcaster Street to east of Poyntz Street and Five Points to Toronto Street is anticipated to be completed by June 30. |“We know the timing is not ideal as we are still dealing with pandemic conditions,” said Tawnya Gurchin, Manager of Developer and Special Project. “However, the timing of the work could not be avoided. The work needs to occur in warmer weather and must be completed prior to June 30 to meet the contract obligations. We remain committed to working with our downtown businesses to reduce the impact of this work anyway we can.” Due to the nature of some of the work, certain patios will be required to be temporarily closed or removed. The maximum disruption at any given location will not exceed two weeks. City staff are working with all businesses that intend to have patios to minimize disruptions. Dunlop Street will remain open for the duration of this work, however, there may be some lane reductions when construction vehicles are in the area. Pedestrian traffic will always be maintained, and businesses will remain open. There is currently no weekend work scheduled and the work will be completed by the end of June, in time to support BIA summer programming. Two-hour free parking will once again be provided in the Chase McEachern Way and Maple Avenue parking lots from April 5 until June 30. People using these lots must print a receipt from the machine and display it on their vehicle dashboard to be eligible for the free two-hour parking. The City encourages residents to support downtown businesses and shop local whenever possible. The We Dig Downtown project, which began in August 2019, was a major undertaking that replaced and repaired infrastructure underground, while giving downtown’s main street a complete makeover. The timing of the final finishes could not be avoided. The work needs to occur in warmer weather, and it must be completed prior to June 30 to meet contract obligations with the contractor. Visit barrie.ca/DigDowntown to learn more about this project.
Barrie police continue to investigate an armed robbery that occurred at the Circle K convenience store at 149 St. Vincent Street, Thursday morning. Police were able to determine that the lone male suspect entered the store shortly after 2 a.m., walked around the counter and removed a large knife that was concealed in his pants. A demand for money was made and the on-duty clerk complied. The suspect then very calmly walked out of the store and continued walking southbound through the parking lot towards the intersection of St. Vincent and Penetang streets. Responding Barrie police officers immediately set up a perimeter in the area in order to search for the suspect who is described as male white, approximately 5’8″ tall, 30-years old, black jacket with hood up, black baseball cap, black bandana with white outlines covering his face, black Adidas pants with a white stripe going down the side, white sneakers and white gloves. A canine track was conducted, but unfortunately the suspect made good his escape. Although an undisclosed amount of currency and two packages of cigarettes were obtained, the clerk was not injured and nothing else appears to have taken. Anyone with information regarding this robbery or may know who is responsible is encouraged to call Barrie Police at 705-725-7025, ext. 2129.
The Province is expanding the number of pharmacies in Ontario able to administer COVID-19 vaccinations, with eight of the locations being in Barrie. All of these locations will be offering the AstraZeneca vaccine to individuals aged 55 and over, with some locations to begin offering the vaccine as early as Saturday, April 3, the Province said in a press release. “Ontario’s capacity to get needles in arms continues to grow by the day. Thanks to the determination and commitment of members of Team Ontario we are ahead of schedule and administering more vaccines than all of the other provinces combined. We are ready to dramatically increase the number of vaccines we can administer once we receive a steady and reliable supply from the federal government,” said Premier Doug Ford. The Barrie pharmacies are: • Costco Pharmacy, 41 Maple View Drive East • Drugstore Pharmacy, 620 Yonge St. • Loblaw Pharmacy, 472 Bayfield St. • Purehealth Pharmacy, 201 Georgian Drive • Rexall Pharma Plus, 567 Essa Road • Shoppers Drug Mart, 420 Essa Road • Shoppers Drug Mart, 165 Wellington St. West • Springwater Pharmacy, 1017 Carson Road Vaccinations are by appointment only; call or visit websites to make an appointment. The province says it is continuing to work with primary care professionals to offer vaccinations in primary care settings and community locations, such as physician offices, in collaboration with public health units. This initiative is expanding from locations in six public health unit regions to offering the vaccine in every region across the province covering all 34 public health units.
The Barrie Police Service has partnered with a number of community organizations to offer fun and educational virtual sessions for children throughout the upcoming spring break. With the COVID-19 pandemic still preventing many in-person camps from operating for spring break, these virtual sessions are a great way to keep students engaged and active throughout the week. With topics ranging from CPR basics to Yoga and storytime with our Community Services Officers, there’s something for everyone during this week. All sessions are free to attend, and students can tune in to watch the session. Parents are asked to register by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org with their child’s name and the session(s) they would like to attend. A confirmation email will be sent along with a link to join the event closer to the day.
Barrie police are investigating what they call a suspicious incident that happened in Ardagh Bluffs between Eaglestone Lane and Cumming Drive, Sunday. The incident involved what was believed to have been a recording of a baby crying that was heard by two young females who were walking a dog in the area. As they exited the wooded trail onto Cumming Drive at approximately 5 p.m., a silver-coloured car being driven by an unknown male drove by the females. The driver waved, continued to travel along the road and there was no conversation or exchange of words between the females or the driver. This incident was reported to the Barrie police shortly after 7 p.m. and immediate patrols of the area were made, however the responding officer was unable to locate the involved motor vehicle and the crying sounds reported were not heard. Police are aware of social media posts that have detailed this incident and have followed up with investigators from the Barrie Police Service Human Trafficking Unit, who indicate that they are not aware of a tactic such as this being used to lure victims into a human trafficking situation. Police strongly recommend that any incident where there is a suspicious vehicle or person involved be reported immediately so that the appropriate response with the appropriate resources can take place. Where a vehicle is involved, as many details regarding the vehicle as possible should be noted, as these will assist in any required investigation or follow up. Where it is a person, any appearance details can help to identify the person involved. Anyone with more information on this incident can contact police at 705-725-7025 or email@example.com.
More than 86,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in Simcoe/Muskoka as the number of new infections from variants of the virus continues to grow. The health unit reports that 738 local cases have been tested positive for the COVID-19 variant of concern UK B.1.1.7 (UK), 18 cases have tested positive for the P.1 variant of concern (Brazil), one case has tested positive for the B.1.351 variant of concern (South Africa), and an additional 453 cases have screened positive (awaiting confirmatory testing). More than 86,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in Simcoe Muskoka, including to nearly 18,000 individuals who have received both of the required doses of the vaccine. In addition, about 3,000 (or 95 percent) of long-term care residents and close to 3,500 (or 96 pent) of retirement home residents have received their first dose. “The vast majority of doses administered have been the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, however nearly 4,200 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine have also been administered to adults 60-64 years by four Family Health Teams in Simcoe Muskoka, and more than 1,400 doses of Moderna vaccine have also been administered,” reports the unit. The health unit is also reporting 59 new cases for the current week. There were 308 new cases reported by the unit for the week of March 21, almost 20 percent higher than the 261 cases reported the week prior. The unit updates daily, Monday through Friday. The Province reported 2,094 new COVID-19 cases today, and the highest positivity rate since January, climbing past six percent; according Public Health Ontario, it reached 6.1 percent on Monday, up from 4.5 percent Saturday and Sunday. On Sunday, 2,448 new cases were reported, and 2,453 on Saturday. Dr. David Williams, the Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer, has said a third wave of the virus is upon us, driven by the variants. Medical experts keep an eye on the positivity rate because it is an indicator of virus transmission, with, obviously, the higher the number, the greater the infection rate. According to the World Health Organization, the positivity rate should be below five percent for at least two weeks for restrictions to be eased/avoided. There are a total of 7,464 reported cases of COVID-19 in the region, with 6,773 recovered and 196 deaths. The unit is reporting a rate of transmission (Rt) of 1.5 percent for March 21. If Rt is greater than one, it indicates the spread of COVID-19 is growing, and if it’s s less than one, the spread of COVID-19 is slowing and containment/mitigation efforts may be working to keep the outbreak under control. The Province is also reporting 841 patients are hospitalized due to COVID-19, with 382 run intensive care units (ICUs) and 236 on ventilators.
When the term coronavirus, soon to morph into COVID-19, first began circulating in the early part of 2020, not many people thought we’d still be living under the restrictions the emerging pandemic would necessitate, more than a year later. But here we are, 12 months after the Province locked down all but essential sectors of the economy, still reeling from the social and economic impacts of the virus, racing to get the population vaccinated before a possible, maybe even probable, third wave driven by new variants of the virus sweeps in, perhaps forcing another shutdown. In fact, we may already be there, according to the Ontario Hospital Association (OHA), which said in a recent tweet “variants of concern” are rapidly rising, and the number of people in intensive care is trending upwards again. “We are now in stage three,” the OHA said. Other medical experts dispute that a third wave has arrived, saying it’s still too early to tell. Among those hoping, perhaps even praying, that a third wave and ensuing lockdowns can be avoided are small-business owners like Sarah Lynne Maloney, proprietor of Malones Pint House on Bradford Street. She and other business owners have endured three lockdowns: • On March 17 of last year following Ontario’s first COVID-19 death, a Barrie man in his 70s, the Province declared a state of emergency, locking down schools and all services deemed non-essential. Some services, including some retail stores, recreation and sports facilities, professional workplaces, golf courses, and marinas, reopened (with health measures in place) in May. Bars and restaurants in most of the province, including Barrie, reopened in June. • On Dec. 26, the province, along with Simcoe/Muskoka, entered another lockdown phase, and on Jan. 14, the Province enacted a stay-at-home order. It lasted until Feb. 16 when the province moved back to the colour-coded reopening framework, with Simcoe/Muskoka going to the Red-Control zone. • The region moved back into the Grey-Lockdown level on Monday, March 1 after the region’s medical officer of health, Dr. Charles Gardner, called for an emergency brake to be applied due to concerns over the presence of COVID-19 variants in the region. The measure was lifted after a week, moving the region back to Red-Control. The COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions caused personal and business turmoil, with Maloney saying a low point was having to lay staff off, not once but three times. It impacted her emotionally and financially. “Having to lay somebody off is probably the worst thing that I have ever had to do … having to tell someone you are laying them off because you don’t know when you are going to open again is humiliating for a small-business owner. You feel like you are defeated, like you have done something wrong. It’s awful,” she said. “It’s very difficult for me on a personal level. I don’t sleep at night wondering how people are going to make ends meet.” Maloney describes the impact of COVID-19 as devastating, although a break in the gloom happened last summer when the City brought in its Patios Everywhere program, essentially allowing bars and restaurants to extend patios onto adjacent parking spots. “We were very lucky in the summertime to be able to extend our patio to gain some of our business back. But even though it was one of the largest patios around, we still didn’t have the same amount of gross sales we would have had if we had been able to fully open indoors, and outdoors. It made up for the three months (of lockdown), but it definitely didn’t cover everything from being closed from March until June.” The City has announced plans to bring the program back for the coming patio season. It will help establishments, especially those that don’t have built-in patio areas, said Maloney, who added the initial one likely saved a number of businesses from going under. She also appreciates how easy the City made it to extend the patios, with no additional fees or red tape to cut through. Even though Malones and other locales were open for takeout during much of the past year, it was a struggle to survive on that alone, and during the low times, Maloney admits wondering if it was even worthwhile to open the doors at all. “You can’t expect people every single day to call you up and get takeout. Everyone is on limited funds, and there are a lot of people who are still unemployed. Everyone wants to support local, and everyone has been wonderful about doing it, but it’s just not something that is feasible all the time.” A high point arrived with the lifting of the first lockdown. “Our patio was full the first day, which was fantastic, and it was cold out. All through the summer our patio was thriving, and we had a lot of personal recommendations from people who had never been here before. That was amazing, it just made you feel good.” She admits, though, to being frustrated by the capacity limits placed on bars and restaurants, which can only seat 10 people inside during the Red-Control level, and none at all during lockdown. Under current lockdown protocols, large retailers such as grocery stores can operate at 50 percent capacity, while other retailers, including big-box stores, can be at 25 percent capacity. In the Red-Control zone, it’s 75 percent capacity for supermarkets, and 50 percent for other retailers. Local bars and restaurants, said Maloney, are strictly adhering to distancing, division, tracing, and sanitary measures mandated to keep staff and customers safe, adding that not one case of COVID-19 has been linked to her business. The health unit’s reporting puts the region’s hospitality sector at the low end of COVID-19 outbreak spectrum. “It irritates me that small businesses have gone above and beyond, and we aren’t allowed to open … that’s ridiculous.” Community leaders, including Mayor Jeff Lehman, have called on the Province to ease the capacity limits on bars and restaurants. “While large chain businesses have a corporate framework to support them, small businesses must sink or swim on their own. If all retail environments are able to remain open with reduced capacity, there seems little reason why other small businesses cannot remain open with the same protective measures in place,” he said. Government programs like rent and wage subsidies have helped to cover the bills, and customers have generally followed the rules, but the past 12 months took a toll, emotionally and fiscally, said Maloney. “There are people who are just hanging on. A lot of business owners aren’t taking paycheques, I’m not taking a paycheque. I’m going to make sure that, first of all, the staff is paid and the gas stays on. It is definitely a struggle and everyone is feeling it.”
Council renumeration is back on the table with a staff report recommending the creation of a committee comprised of five community members to review compensation for members of council and related committees for the 2022-26 term. If adopted by general committee on Monday and later ratified by council, the Council Compensation Committee would recommend base compensation for elected officials. The most recent review was conducted in 2017, and was enacted for the current term. Staff is recommending that in addition to the compensation component, the committee also include items not covered in the 2017 report, including: • Members of council’s benefit plan • Honourariums paid to appointees to committees, boards and commissions • Policies concerning roles and compensation, reimbursement of council expenses, council benefits, use of corporate resources for election purposes, and meetings with other levels of government “A regular review of council’s remuneration is important to ensure equitable compensation based on data of comparable municipalities. It is prudent to ensure that comparisons between municipalities in determining market compensation reflect an appropriate evaluation and comparison of the demands on elected officials’ time and related responsibilities,” reads the report. “The advertisement for the citizen members would note the preference for individuals who have a background or experience related to finance, accounting or human resources given the nature of the committee.” A committee of citizens would ensure accountability and transparency of the review process, the report says. “The committee’s recommendations would also be viewed at arm’s length, unbiased and in closer alignment with public opinion. As part of the review, the committee would solicit feedback either through a survey or individual meetings with members of council in order to fully understand the members’ roles and responsibilities and the amount of time that is dedicated to them.” Other municipalities have hired consultants to conduct such reviews, but no funds have been allocated in the 2021 Business Plan for that purpose. However, enlisting the work of a consultant is still an available option, says the report, if council wants to move in that direction. A report from May 11 of last year detailed council renumeration and expenses for 2019. Mayor Jeff Lehman had a base pay of $118,040, while members of council received $38,324. Total pay and expenses came in at $642,215.12. The mayor also made an additional $47,500 for sitting on the board of Alectra Utilities.
City residents and visitors who flout barbeque and tent/sunshade restrictions at Barrie waterfront parks and beaches could face stiffer fines of $100 to $1,000 after general committee adopted staff recommendations to update the current parks-use bylaw. The report had recommended beefing up the fines and posting new signs in parks, environmentally protected lands, and open space, following up on council direction from last summer (Aug. 10) to address COVID-related and environmental impacts of allowing such activities to continue. On Monday at general committee, Ward 9 councillor Sergio Morales’ amendment to allow BBQs at inland parks was passed. Charcoal-fuelled BBQs would be the only ones permitted at the inland parks. Ward 6 councillor Natalie Harris moved a similar amendment for tents, that restrictions apply only to waterfront parks, except for Little Lake. That was also supported by committee. Anything supported by more than one pole would be restricted, however a small tent to protect an infant would not “violate the overall intent” of the bylaw, Tammy Banting, Manager of Enforcement Services, told committee. The intent, she said, was to ensure clear visibility to the water for safety and other reasons. “If you are going to your kid’s soccer game, or baseball game, or if you have a pick-up sports game, or even if you just want to spend some time in a neighbourhood park, the intention here was not to ban the sunshades that every soccer family brings along to the game … I think this was over-reaching a little bit,” said Mayor Jeff Lehman. “The intent was to have something consistent across the parks, but really the only issue here is the waterfront parks and specifically the beaches.” Specifically, council had asked staff to: • Investigate the process of and the implications of closing the beach at Wilkins Park due to ongoing environmental damage in this area that is zoned environmental protection and report back to general committee by March 2021. • Investigate the implications of and the required bylaw changes for making permanent restrictions on the use of personal BBQs, tents and other associated equipment on City beaches, and report back to general committee by March 2021. • Investigate the feasibility of and the cost to update the Waterfront Strategic Plan (2015) to address emerging trends and the impact of growth on the safe and appropriate access to City beaches, public spaces and parks along the public waterfront and report back to general committee. The current bylaw was enacted prior to the pandemic, which resulted in a range of ongoing restrictions and concerns, including distancing measures at City parks. Last summer, staff observed COVID-related impacts at City parks, most notably waterfront parks, including: • A significant increase in visitors to our waterfront parks due to more restrictive COVID-19 regulations applying to the regions to the south of the City where beaches and other waterfront amenities were still closed to the public. This increase resulted in overcrowding of the beaches and waterfront parks with subsequent congregating of people in gatherings larger than what was permitted by COVID-19 regulations at the time. • The use of barbeques and other cooking appliances resulted in complaints due to smoke and odours by park users and area residents. In addition, staff also noted increased garbage and debris as well as dumping of materials that were still a potential ignition source. • The use of tents and other large sunshade structures was seen as a direct factor to the overcrowding and congregating. The tents and large sunshade structures were also seen as a public safety concern as they obstructed the view for lifeguard and parents ensuring safety of those in the water. Complaints were also received concerning the nature of activities occurring within the tents including using them as washroom facilities. The City reacted on July 8 with a temporary order to prohibit barbeques and other cooking items at Wilkins Park and other beach areas. Then on July 25, the City moved to temporarily restrict the use of barbeques and other cooking items, as well as tents, at all waterfront parks, beaches and trails. It all came with a zero-tolerance mandate to such activities. An earlier plan to install permanent barbeques at Centennial park and other beach areas was halted due to COVID-19, but it is expected the plan will move ahead once the pandemic is over. “Issues that were identified with the use of charcoal appliances include the dumping of hot coals into park waste receptacles, dumping of coals into the lake, and coals left at the site the appliance was used. In addition, concerns have been raised associated with the smoke and odours from the smoke and lighter fluid as these appliances could be set up anywhere in the park,” reads the report. “Staff have found that over the years the use of barbeques, both propane and charcoal, in the parks has increased as park usership has changed to more full day visits rather than a short stay and swim. Citizens are utilizing our parks not only as a general gathering place but have also started using the various parks for family events and community gatherings.” Recommended and amended updates to the bylaw would: • Prohibit the operation of a barbeque or other cooking appliance within a (waterfront) park unless it is a designated community-use barbeque installed by the City or otherwise authorized by the City. • Prohibit the disposal or depositing of community-use barbeque coals in any waste container or any other location other than those designated for their safe disposal. • Prohibit the use of large tents or sunshades within a (waterfront) park.
The City will have more than $17 million left over to spend on future transit projects from the $58 million in municipal, provincial, and federal funding for five transit projects, including replacing the bus fleet and expanding the Allandale Mobility Hub. Cost of the projects is projected to be close to $41 million. With the City’s contribution of more than $15 million, the total amount allocated to transit initiatives comes in at $58,544,870. The exact numbers are: City, $15,613,917; Province, $19,513,005; feds, $23,417,948. A staff report prepared for Monday’s general committee meeting recommends that the mayor and city clerk be authorized “to execute the Transfer Payment Agreement (TPA) with the Province of Ontario as represented by the Ministry of Transportation related to the public transit stream of the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program (ICIP).” “On Tuesday April 2nd, 2019, the governments of Canada and Ontario released details regarding the public transit funding stream of the larger Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program (ICIP). The purpose of the public transit funding is to build new urban transit networks and service extensions that will transform the way that Canadians live, move and work. This stream funds capital costs to construct, expand, and improve public transit networks,” reads the report. The five City transit projects are: • Allandale Mobility Hub: Projected cost is $9,900,450, with project timelines being second quarter of 2020, to fourth quarter of 2022. The existing Allandale Bus Hub will be expanded with this project to include 13 platforms and a two-storey terminal building. The terminal building will include a passenger waiting area, ticketing window, small retail space, and driver break room • Downtown Connection Hub: Project cost is $326,700, with the same timelines as the Allandale Mobility Hub. The construction of a downtown connection hub will function as the primary downtown bus stop for the city. The project scope includes the construction of two lay-by lane bus stops which will accommodate six buses and one heated transit shelter • On-street Infrastructure Improvements: Project cost is $2,736,462, with timelines being first quarter of 2022 to first quarter of 2027. The scope of the project consists of installing street-based bus stop infrastructure such as next bus displays, heated shelters, bike racks, new bus stop signs, bus stop shelters, and concrete bus pads • Conventional Fleet Replacement: Project cost is $23,389,023, with timelines being first quarter 2020 to first quarter, 2027. The project consists of the purchase of 30 low-floor 40-foot conventional buses, which will replace the retiring fleet • Barrie Specialized Fleet Replacement: Project cost is $4,674,600, with timelines being first quarter 2020 to first quarter 2027. The project consists of the purchase of 21 specialized city buses, which will replace the retiring fleet Funding has been allocated to municipalities based on readership numbers, and may increase as ridership grows. Total cost of the projects is $41,027,235.16. The remaining $17,517,634.84, from the $58 million, will be allocated towards future projects, says the staff report.
One year ago today, March 23, 2020, Mayor Jeff Lehman declared a state of emergency in the City of Barrie. The state of emergency which remains in effect today, provides the City with additional powers and resources to protect the health and safety of Barrie residents and streamlines the decision-making process through the City’s Emergency Operations Centre (EOC). “This past year has been a challenge, but we’ve also learned so much,” said Lehman. “We’ve seen just how resilient and strong our community is, as we make our way through these uncertain times. I can’t thank the residents of Barrie enough for their efforts to stop the spread. And thank you to all our brave frontline workers and our incredible community partners for your unwavering commitment to supporting our community. As vaccinations ramp up, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Stay strong, Barrie.” The City’s EOC was implemented on March 12. This group of leaders from the City, Barrie Police, Royal Victoria Hospital, and the Simcoe Muskoka Health Unit meet regularly to make critical decisions to reduce the impact of COVID-19 and react quickly to changing public health regulations. In the last year, they have met 104 times. “This past year our staff have shown resiliency, adaptability and resourcefulness every step of the way,” said Michael Prowse, CAO. “It’s not been an easy year, but I’m proud of our staff’s unwavering commitment to our community.” The City urges residents to continue to follow the latest advice from Public Health to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Visit barrie.ca/COVID19 for more information.
After a short round of negotiations, the City of Barrie and CUPE Local 2380 reached a tentative agreement on March 4, 2021. The agreement was ratified by both CUPE Local 2380 and City Council yesterday (March 22). “I am pleased that we were able reach an agreement with CUPE Local 2380 that is fair and equitable, but also balances the present economic uncertainty we are facing due to the pandemic,” said Michael Prowse, Chief Administrative Officer. “Our employees do extremely important work, and this past year has also shown us just how resilient and adaptable they are too. Even in the midst of pandemic, our employees continue to serve our residents and keep the city moving.” The agreement is for an 18-month term (January 1, 2021 to June 30, 2022) and includes the following wage increases: 1.0 % (Jan. 1, 2021) and 1.0% (Jan. 1, 2022). The previous contract expired on December 31, 2020. “I am happy that our Local was able to reach a deal that was both fair to the tax payers of the City of Barrie and to our members who have been behind the scenes and on the front lines working hard for their community,” said Michael Murphy, President of CUPE Local 2380 “While this round of negotiations with the City was shorter than in past years, it in no way diminishes the amount of work that our committee has done to develop, present and negotiate a new collective agreement. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank them for all their hard work with this endeavor and to thank all the rest of our union members who continue to keep our community safe.”
The City distributed almost $390,000 this year to local arts and cultural groups, supporting a sector recovering from the ravages of COVID-19. Of the total, $340,285 went out in operating grants, while $45,500 was in project grants. The funds included a one-time increase of $50,000 in the cultural grants budget for the 2021 program, which was allocated to organizations as part of the process, writes Stephanie Schlichter, General Manager of Infrastructure and Growth Management, in a memo to council. Last year’s budget came in at just under $340,000. The cultural grants program was designed to foster a “fair and equitable opportunity” for the Barrie arts community to apply for and access public funds as part of the City’s investment in the local culture sector, writes Schlichter. Groups seeking less than $50,000 in operating funds could also apply for project grants of up to $5,000. This year, 12 organizations received project grants of $5,000 or less, while nine groups got operating grants ranging from $142,000 for the MacLaren Art Centre to $4,350 for the Barrie Concert Band. Other top recipients included Talk Is Free Theatre, which was granted $70,000, the Barrie film Festival, which received $38,000, and Theatre By The Bay, which was awarded $30,000. This year, 24 applications were received, requesting a total of $539,200 in funding. Of those applications, one was withdrawn and 22 were successful, writes Schlichter. One of the results expected from the program is to maximize the City’s investment. “Since the inception of the program there have been many successes. Organizations have experienced a significant increase in all levels of funding, including other levels of government, private and corporate sponsorships and revenues generated from ticket sales,” writes Schlichter. Other goals are: • To encourage creation and displays of arts and cultural expressions to enhance the quality of life for Barrie and area residents and tourists. • To increase the opportunity for funding to City of Barrie arts organizations and artists from other (non-municipal sources) such as corporate sponsors and federal and provincial government. • To raise artists’ and arts organizations’ awareness of the need for strategic planning, business planning, sustainability planning, sector analysis, understanding competition and more. • To encourage market and product development. • Identification and support of sector champions. The City’s 2020 investment helped the sector receive $2,073,281 from other funding sources, $3,362,751 in earned revenue, and $109,581 in sponsorship revenue. “The total leveraged funding represents a 1010% return on investment for the City of Barrie’s cultural grant funding, resulting in continued operations for these organizations despite limited opportunities to deliver on planned activities,” writes Schlichter.
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