The historic name of an old train station lives on with general committee adopting Allandale Waterfront GO Station as the moniker for the yet-to-be completed train platform being built at the station currently undergoing a refurbishing process.
The city’s existing station at the St. Paul’s area in southeast Barrie is to be called the Barrie South GO Station. Last November, in a letter from Gary McNeil, president of GO Transit, to city clerk Dawn McAlpine, the City was told that for operational and safety reasons, both stations couldn’t have the word ‘Barrie’ in their names.
Ward 8 Coun. Jennifer Robinson said the station name had to contain the word Allandale to respect heritage and neighbourhood sentiments.
The City had originally thought to seek public input for a name by using an online poll. That process was derailed over worries the poll could be used to ratchet up support for one name over another, or push an unacceptable title.
The process of naming the stations also included input from the Allandale Neighbourhood Association and the Allandale Railway Historical Society. Local input suggested strong support for including the name Allandale in the station’s designation.
The decision seems to bring to an end a long and at times divisive process involving train use in Barrie, and the redevelopment of the Allandale station.
Two groups had bid for the opportunity to renew the station, with a variety of uses including retail and accommodations. The City eventually chose the plan put forward by the YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka and the Correct Group Inc. The YMCA’s plan to build a new centre adjacent to the station generated significant community opposition, mostly along the lines that the area proposed for a new YMCA would be better suited for other, tourist-generating purposes.
In January of 2010, the City was informed that there was a change in the plans, and that the YMCA would not be proceeding with its development. As a result, the City moved forward independently to restore the station and surrounding lands.
The use of train whistles also stoked a lengthy community debate, as council first debated and then approved a process to quiet the whistles, if not completely silencing them. The whistles went quiet April 13 following two years of effort. They will still be sounded when the trains return from points south, and during emergency use, as determined by the train engineers.