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The Downtown Barrie Business Association (BIA) has partnered with the Barrie Police Service, the Women & Children’s Shelter of Barrie, the Salvation Army, Shak’s World and the City of Barrie to make downtown Barrie even more inviting. 
Born out of a safety audit that followed a concerned citizen’s experience of feeling unsafe in the downtown, the Bright Spot project was created. Community partner agencies worked collaboratively to identify areas of concern and took action. The Bright Spot project is similar to the well known Block Parent project and provides safe places for the public to go if they are feeling unsafe. 
Participating downtown businesses have undergone training on how to handle unsafe situations and are prepared to assess the situation and determine the next steps. Business owners can call police, help arrange a ride, or just offer a place to wait till a friend arrives. To find the downtown’s Bright Spots, look for these signs in the windows of participating businesses. 
The safety audit also prompted the Downtown Barrie BIA to work with Barrie Police, the City of Barrie and property owners in the downtown to install string lighting in the alleys between 28 Dunlop St E and 34 Dunlop St E as well as between 50 Dunlop St E and 46 Dunlop St E. 
“Leading the safety audit was a really informative process for all partners involved. I want to thank all the businesses who have signed up for the Bright Spot program and I’m really excited to see the lights go up in the alleys. Downtown Barrie is made up of amazing people and businesses and we want them all to feel safe,” noted Community Safety and Well-Being Officer Constable Keira Brooks. 
The string lights add increased lighting to the alleys and also beautifies and draws attention to the area. Further, ten more security cameras have been installed in downtown Barrie bringing the total number of cameras in the area to twenty. These safety measures add to the strength of the downtown community while encouraging the public to come downtown, support local businesses and feel safe.

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Keep the good news about your business going during the lockdown, and emerge stronger and prepared for the growth that awaits. Get noticed, build your brand and audience with Devine Media Service, specializing in brand journalism. Display your ad and/or promotion, have it proactively promoted through social media feeds, have those feeds managed, and support local journalism, for one, affordable and inclusive price

Ward 2 councillor Keenan Aylwin’s drive to lower speed limits across the city from 50 to 40 kph hit a speed bump at Monday’s general committee, with the general consensus being the matter would be best addressed through the development of a Vision Zero strategy.
The councillor had asked committee to support dealing with the speed reduction in the 2022 business plan process.
“This motion is to have us consider lowering the speed limits across the city by 10 kilometres an hour, and to consider the costs as well at budget time to get a rough estimate from staff regarding (the) cost of replacing signage,” he said.
However, staff had earlier presented rough estimates regarding the cost of replacing speed-limit signs on city streets, with one scenario coming in between $175,000 and $250,000, and another costing $225,000 to $400,000 for all the signs on city streets to be changed.
As committee had earlier adopted a motion to pursue a Vision Zero policy, Ward 8 councillor Jim Harris said a possible reduction in the speed limit might wait for a more broader discussion about overall traffic safety.
“I’m pleased that we passed the Vision Zero. I think that is a real good step to provide a fulsome and comprehensive strategy for (managing the safety of) our streets. I think that’s great,” he said.
“With that noted, I do feel information we received earlier today from staff that answered the question of feasibility, (that) it is feasible for us to do a 10-k reduction, (and) what would it cost … with those two questions answered we have the information that really is requested in the motion.”
Earlier in the meeting, committee approved a motion calling on developmental services department staff to submit an intake form as part of the 2022 business plan and budget process for the development of a Vision Zero policy and a traffic calming policy update.
Vision zero is identified as a strategy to eliminate traffic fatalities and injuries, while maintaining mobility for residents. At the centre of the vision is a view that people will make mistakes, and road systems should be constructed to recognize and deal with that reality. It is called a fundamentally different way of approaching traffic safety. It was first introduced in Sweden, and has since arrived in many North American cities. Toronto, for example, has a vision zero plan.
Aylwin said his motion to reduce the speed limit “perfectly complements” the Vision Zero approach.
“There is evidence that shows that reduced speed can reduce the likelihood of severe injury or death, especially for vulnerable road users such as pedestrians or cyclists. At the active transportation and sustainability committee, (when) talking about the Vision Zero strategy, one thing that was noted was that when the City last applied to become a bicycle-friendly community, I think back in 2018, one of the notes on our application, which was denied unfortunately, (was) that out of the municipalities that had applied, we had the highest number of cyclist deaths out of all those cities,” he said.
“That’s troublesome to me and I think this is one change that we can make that gets us towards that Vision Zero, recognizing it’s not a silver bullet by any means, but in my opinion we (should) use every tool in our toolbox.”
While Aylwin’s motion got parked, committee did support an amendment by Harris, that essentially replaced the original motion. It called on staff to review data to determine streets and roads that require improvements to address safety concerns, and to provide a strategy including but not limited to reducing speed limits to address the safety of streets and roads identified in the review.
“Vision zero may take some time … this gives us something to work with now with our residents and staff using the data that we have today … as we wait for a complete Vision Zero strategy,” said Harris.
The City also plans to have an online process for public engagement over issues like a reduction of the speed limit

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• From the City

The plan will suggest ways for residents, businesses, and different industries to use energy more efficiently.

This Earth Day (April 22), the City of Barrie is hosting a Public Engagement Meeting to discuss the Community Energy & Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Reduction Plan, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.  
The City of Barrie began developing its Community Energy & GHG Reduction Plan in late 2019. The plan will suggest ways for residents, businesses, and different industries to use energy more efficiently. To help build a successful plan, the City is asking the public to provide feedback on proposed energy and GHG reduction strategies.
The meeting will begin with a presentation, followed by Q & A with City staff and consultants. Residents can watch the presentation in advance, submit their questions and provide feedback at buildingbarrie.ca/CommunityEnergy. The public are encouraged to bring ideas to share. Comments will be accepted until May 6, 2021.
You must register in advance for this meeting at buildingbarrie.ca/CommunityEnergy. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting. The meeting will be hosted on Zoom, with call-in options available. Questions about registration can be directed to mgallina@lura.ca.

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 The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit has declared a COVID-19 workplace outbreak at Barrie Transit after three more drivers, for a total of six, received a positive test for the virus.
The City was notified that three more Barrie Transit staff received a positive COVID-19 test result. There are currently six Barrie Transit staff isolating at home following a positive COVID-19 test. All buses are thoroughly cleaned and sanitized after service each day and receive additional mid-day sanitization to further improve safety measures.
As the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit (SMDHU) 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. The health unit declared a workplace outbreak because there could be a link between two of the cases. At this time, the three new cases have not been linked to the previous cases. The unit continues to support the health policies and practices that Barrie Transit has in place, and as a result they believe the risk of spread is low. Barrie Transit will continue operate as normal and maintain current service levels.
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
Barrie Transit staff wear a mask or face covering when working in the public areas of the indoor public space unless the staff member is within or behind a physical barrier or is in an area of the premises that is not designated for public access. The operators (drivers) do not have to wear masks as they are separated from the public by plexiglass shields installed on buses. They do need to wear masks if they exit the driver seat/plexiglass area to secure a wheelchair/mobility device or enter the public area of the vehicle.
Everyone using Barrie Transit is reminded 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.

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Barrie police handed out eight tickets to participants in an anti-lockdown rally Saturday at Meridian Place that reportedly attracted 400-500 people, in defiance of a provincial stay-at-home order.
Police had warned that stepped-up enforcement would take place, and Mayor Jeff Lehman and council had released a letter calling on protesters to stay home. The event featured People’s Party of Canada (PPC) leader Maxime Bernier, who spoke out against lockdown measures like the current stay-at-home order, telling protesters they were part of an “ideological revolution.”
The protests have been a regular fixture at the downtown square since March 15, with Saturday’s event the largest one yet.
On Friday, Premier Doug Ford extended the stay-at-home order another two weeks, now totalling six weeks, citing rising COVID-19 numbers driven largely by new variants, and the impact on intensive care units.
“Those gathering in large groups, continuing to put themselves and others at risk, (should) understand the restrictions will be strongly, strongly enforced because they must be. We know that when they are followed, these measures work. They reduce mobility and they do flatten the curve. We know this because we have seen them work before. What we need now is for everyone to follow these rules,” he said.
The Province has since walked back on beefed-up police powers that would have given them the authority to stop people and ask them why they were out of residence. Playgrounds have also been reopened, but other amenities like golf courses remain closed. Restrictions include:
• Outdoor gatherings will now be strictly limited to members of a household, however anyone who lives alone can join another household
• All non-essential construction will be halted
• Capacity is being reduced at big box and grocery stores to 25 percent
• Beginning Monday, places of worship will be capped at a maximum of 10 people indoors
On Sunday, the Province reported another 4,250 cases of COVID-19, with 2,107 in hospital, an increase of 42 from the previous day. Of those, 741 are in ICUs, an increase of 15, and 506 are on ventilators, an increase of five.
As cases of COVID-19 in Ontario continue to surge, Dr. Adalsteinn Brown, co-chair of the Ontario COVID-19 science table, warned Friday that growing public fatigue with measures to control the disease is becoming a daunting challenge to putting the virus in the rearview mirror.
“Our progress is both frustrating and frightening. I believe we are all feeling something similar right now, whether we are working in a hospital, a warehouse, or a restaurant – whether we are a student or retiree. Everywhere from my hometown of London, up to Ottawa, from Windsor through to Kenora, I know some of us are frustrated, some are frightened, and some of us are just fatigued,” said Brown when presenting the latest COVID-19 projections.
Under any scenario, more vaccinations mean a faster resolution to the pandemic, he added.
“Please know when it is your turn, and please get vaccinated. The vaccine protects you and it protects the people around you. And the faster we get the third wave tamped down, the faster we open up.”

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“Those gathering in large groups, continuing to put themselves and others at risk (should) understand the restrictions will be strongly, strongly enforced because they must be. We know that when they are followed, these measures work. They reduce mobility and they do flatten the curve. We know this because we have seen them work before. What we need now is for everyone to follow these rules.” – Premier Doug Ford


Taking direct aim at people who flout public health measures designed to combat the spread of COVID-19, Premier Doug Ford today said restrictions against large gatherings will be strictly enforced and authorities will have beefed-up powers to enforce compliance.
He delivered the news during a press conference to announce an extension of the current stay-at-home order, from four weeks to six weeks.
“I know the majority of Ontario residents are doing the right thing, they are following the rules (and) keeping each other safe. But, we need to step up enforcement, we need to focus on those who are deliberately putting others at risk by ignoring the stay-at-home order,” he said.
“Those gathering in large groups, continuing to put themselves and others at risk (should) understand the restrictions will be strongly, strongly enforced because they must be. We know that when they are followed, these measures work. They reduce mobility and they do flatten the curve. We know this because we have seen them work before. What we need now is for everyone to follow these rules.”
In addition to extending the stay-at-home order, Ford announced a number of new restrictions, including:
• Outdoor gatherings will now be strictly limited to members of a household, however anyone who lives alone can join another household
• All non-essential construction will be halted
• Outdoor amenities, such as golf courses, basketball courts, soccer fields, and playgrounds, will be closed
• Capacity is being reduced at big box and grocery stores to 25 percent
• Beginning Monday, places of worship will be capped at a maximum of 10 people indoors

Province to establish checkpoints at Manitoba and Quebec borders

The Province is also moving to tighten mobility into and out of Ontario, said Ford.
“To get ahead of the variants that are plaguing Western Canada, beginning Monday we are setting up checkpoints at all interprovincial borders. We will be limiting access to border crossings between Ontario and the provinces of Manitoba and Quebec, with exceptions such as work, medical care, and the transportation of goods. And we are calling on the federal government to immediately tighten up our international borders to stop even more deadlier strains of the virus getting into Canada.”
Every week, said Ford, more than 36,000 people from all over the world arrive at Pearson International Airport.
The Province has also sent a letter to the premiers of other provinces asking for assistance in battling the current surge. Reports indicate there is a shortfall of 4,145 nurses in the province’s hospital sector, and that 620 nurses and respiratory therapists are needed for GTA hospitals.
The office of the Alberta Premier, Jason Kenney, replied that “with COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations on a sharp rise here in Alberta, we are simply not in a position to send our health care workers outside the province at this time.”
The news from Newfoundland and Labrador was slightly more encouraging. “We have already offered support to Ontario, and are quite happy to provide personnel, expertise, and extra equipment where capacity allows – understanding that the safety of people in our province is paramount,” said Premier Andrew Furey.
Ontario recorded 4,812 new cases today, the highest ever, and 25 more deaths. There are 1,955 COVID-19 patients being treated in hospitals, 701 in intensive care units (ICUs), of which 480 are on ventilators. Over the past two weeks there has been a 67-percent growth in COVID-related hospitalizations, and a 51-percent growth in ICU admissions. Projections suggest ICU admissions could top 1,000 by the end of April.
New modelling predicts weak public health measures lasting just four weeks could lead to more than 30,000 new daily cases of COVID-19 by the end of May. Ford said few options are left to fight the pandemic, and that it is a race between the new variants and the ability to get people vaccinated.
“I’ve never shied away from telling you the brutal, honest truth. I’ve never shied away from tough decisions, and today I am here to do just that. My friends, we are losing the battle between the variants and vaccines. The pace of vaccine supply has not kept up with the spread of the new COVID variants. We are on our heels, but if we dig in, remain steadfast, we can turn this around. We are down but by no means are we out.”
He said it comes down to three basic steps: limiting mobility, enforcing the rules, and getting vaccines into arms.

Solicitor General takes aim at people ignoring the rules

“Police will also have the authority to stop a vehicle to enquire about an individual’s reason for leaving their residence. I cannot stress this enough. It is imperative that everyone limit their trips outside their home to permitted purposes only.” – Solicitor General Sylvia Jones

Solicitor General Sylvia Jones said COVID-19 projections are moving in a dangerous direction across Ontario, with devastating consequences for the hospital system, adding it is essential that people respect the stay-at-home order and follow public health measures.
“This is a critical moment in Ontario’s response to this deadly virus and every single person in Ontario has an important role in protecting our community. Unfortunately, some people continue to attend gatherings and leave their homes for non-essential reasons. As a government, it is our responsibility to take action to address non-compliance and prevent further transmission of COVID-19. That is why … we have made the deliberate decision to temporarily enhance police officers’ authority for the duration of the stay-at-home order.”
Police will have the authority to stop people and ask them why they are not at home, and for their home address.
“Police will also have the authority to stop a vehicle to enquire about an individual’s reason for leaving their residence. I cannot stress this enough. It is imperative that everyone limit their trips outside their home to permitted purposes only.”

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• From the Barrie Police Service

The Barrie Police Service is aware that another demonstration is being planned for Meridian Place this coming Saturday and hope that those who may be considering attending respect provincial orders, abide by local public health guidelines, and simply reconsider their plans.
This past week has seen a significant increase in the number of positive COVID-19 case numbers, hospitalizations across the province, and in the number of deaths. The Stay-at-Home order issued by the Ontario government remains in place and there exists a strong possibility that this type of large gathering could serve as a source of transmission for the virus.
Over the past number of weeks, there has been a gradual increase in the number of people attending the demonstrations being held at Meridian Place and this is a trend that is expected to continue despite all the restrictions.
Previous protests at Meridian Place have been peaceful assemblies without criminal offences occurring. Keeping our community, including our police officers, safe against criminal acts is an important consideration when allowing an unlawful gathering to continue or not.
The Barrie Police Service will be present to monitor and ensure Saturday’s event is a peaceful gathering however protestors may be subject to provincial offence notices with fines and/or court date requirements. 
Members of the community who are not in agreement of the protest are encouraged to avoid Meridian Place and surrounding area during the expected peaceful assembly. Organizers are advertising that the demonstration will occur between 12-1:30 p.m. Communication through our social media platforms will be utilized to update our community as to when the area has cleared.
“We know that most of our community are doing their best to prevent the spread of COVID-19 to keep people healthy and to end the restrictions as quick as possible. We thank those that are following the rules and respecting public health recommendations” says Police Chief Kimberley Greenwood. 

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• A Perspective

Wondering what the fuss over Wilkins Beach is all about? If you haven’t been to this sandy haven on the south shore of the bay, have a trek down there and find out for yourself. It is indeed, as described by numerous individuals, a jewel of a spot, most worthy of protecting.
The beach has been in the news since last summer when it was swarmed by out-of-towners seeking to escape COVID-19 restrictions in their regions south of here, problems encountered at other Barrie beaches, leading to a ban on BBQs and tents at Barrie’s waterfront parks and beaches. The small sandy beach, mostly a neighbourhood retreat, is zoned environmentally protected (EP) and the summer crowds only exacerbated the ongoing damage to Hewitt’s Creek that flows into the bay by the beach, highlighting the need to protect it.
The creek area is a cold-water fishery, turtle hatchery, and habitat to snakes, frogs, minnows, and assorted fauna. While the push to maintain the area may have been driven by concerns raised last summer about crowding and waste-related issues, current zoning does not allow a designated beach at Wilkins Park. As such, zoning compliance was required. That happened this week when council adopted the BBQ/tent ban and agreed to delist Wilkins beach.
“It is the EP zoning that is requiring the City to delist Wilkins as a beach and restore Wilkins Park to allow it to regenerate to its natural state over time. In addition, the approved Waterfront & Marina Strategic Plan recommends that the City ensures that key natural heritage features are retained and protected along the south shore, including the open creek systems such as Hewitt’s Creek that drain into the bay,” reads a staff memo.

Residents mobilized to save beloved beach

When area residents got wind that they may lose the beach as the locale went through the process of reverting to a more natural state, they mobilized. The ward’s councillor, Mike McCann, said he heard from many constituents anxious about the fate of their beloved beach. It’s tempting to see the eventual outcome as a win over City Hall, but it really wasn’t much of a fight as the memo had clarified that the beach would not disappear.
“The proposed plan can accommodate retention of a partial sandy area although it will not be maintained in any way. This will give the experience of a naturalized shoreline area for passive enjoyment after the restoration work is completed in 2021,” it read.
Music to the ears of area residents, and indeed to all those who call Barrie home.
“A lot has progressed since I met with councillor McCann … and I’m at a bit of a loss for words but am encouraged in terms of the direction that we seem to be going,” said resident Gary Ray in his deputation. “We love the ability to walk down to the beach and take a swim … we bring friends and relatives and are very respectful in terms of making sure we don’t make noise and leave garbage, etc.”
Carolyn Ray said residents were having a “freak-out” that they were going to lose their “dear, sweet beach that we adore.”
So, the beach is to be delisted, which means it will be scrubbed from the City’s website as an active beach, and no longer promoted as such in tourism material. It’s hoped that, and other measures like the BBQ/tent ban, tightened parking restrictions, and heightened enforcement will substantially reduce, if not erase, non-resident use of the sandy shoreline, part of Wilkins Park.

“There’s going to be the teenager coming from Midhurst to visit a friend. They are going to forget a special pass …. and they are going to have their car towed and someone is going to pay hundreds and hundreds of dollars. A $100 (parking) fine is bad enough, but it’s really expensive when they get their car towed,” said Ward 4 councillor Barry Ward.

Residents in spillover parking zones to get ‘friends and family pass’ – signs will have towing warning, but no towing will actually occur

Speaking of parking, council also adopted a ‘friends and family’ parking pass that residents can use to accommodate the loss of on-street parking due to spillover from waterfront lots into residential neighbourhoods. On-street parking within 500 metres of a waterfront access point was prohibited, except for vehicles displaying a valid Resident Waterfront Parking Pass.
Eligible households, those in the impacted neighbourhoods, will receive five passes, each good for one day-use from June 15 to Sept. 15. The original intent was for it to apply only to households near Wilkins Park, but other councillors with beaches in their wards successfully lobbied for the same benefit for their constituents. As well as the Wilkins area, Centennial Park & Beach, Johnson’s Beach, Minet’s Point Park & Beach, and Tyndale Park & Beach will be included in the program, at an estimated cost of $5,000.
The use of the passes will be conditional on COVID-related public health measures that may be in place during the summer.
A towing provision for those not in compliance with the requirement to display a resident parking pass in waterfront spillover zones was discussed, but ultimately dismissed over fears Barrie residents who forgot their pass would be fined and towed.
“There’s going to be the teenager coming from Midhurst to visit a friend. They are going to forget a special pass …. and they are going to have their car towed and someone is going to pay hundreds and hundreds of dollars. A $100 (parking) fine is bad enough, but it’s really expensive when they get their car towed,” said Ward 4 councillor Barry Ward.
So, the solution that council came up with is to install no-parking signs warning that cars not displaying valid parking passes will be towed, but not actually to do any towing, hoping the signs will be enough to deter illegal parking. Last year signs in spillover zones indicated resident-only parking; this year the towing notice will be added, but only in the Wilkins Park area for a one-year pilot program.

“Even though this is delisted as a beach … I think that having a beach area even though it won’t be maintained like it has been in the past is a real win, win, win: a win for the environment, a win for the City, and the biggest win for Ward 10 residents.”

Protective fencing along creek to be installed, Save the Turtles and ambassador programs planned

Fencing will also be installed at sensitive areas along Hewitt’s Creek to protect the aforementioned wildlife and fauna, and anyone hopping the fence into the creek will be met with a zero-tolerance approach from bylaw enforcement, with tickets handed out rather than warnings. The fence, however, will not impede the movement of turtles, just people, council was told.
“Fencing the creek … isn’t a want, it’s a need. This area has been trampled a lot by human footprints, but also just by natural erosion. We need this area to breathe, and whether that’s temporary for a year or it takes two years, this is something that needs to get done,” said McCann.
He also convinced council to support a Save the Turtles program.
“The sandy beach … will remain open. It will be a large portion, enough for friends and family to enjoy the beach and go for a swim. The trails will remain open and, most importantly, (we will be) preserving the wildlife and the fauna – the minnows, snakes, frogs (and turtles).”
An ambassador-type adopt-a-park program is also being discussed, allowing residents, organizations, businesses, and groups to voluntarily assist in the maintenance of parks, trails, and beaches. “I love the term ambassador … it’s such a positive approach to problems,” said Gary Ray.
So, at the end of the day it seems everyone got something: area, and city, residents still have their beach, the environment is being protected, and measures to control crowds are being implemented.
“I think it was councillor (Jim) Harris who said that this is one of the most breathtaking spots in Barrie, and it is, so we need to protect that by stopping the flow of people so this area can breathe,” said McCann. “Even though this is delisted as a beach … I think that having a beach area even though it won’t be maintained like it has been in the past is a real win, win, win: a win for the environment, a win for the City, and the biggest win for Ward 10 residents.”

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“You may think this is about freedom, but it isn’t – you are only contributing to the spread of this virus, which in turn, robs people of their freedom by getting them sick. You are endangering the very people you think you are advocating for by making it unsafe for them to be in a public square.” – Mayor Jeff Lehman


An Open Letter to the organizers, speakers, and anyone planning on coming to the protest this Saturday at Meridian Place:

You are putting lives at risk by illegally gathering. Not just your own lives, but the lives of nurses, doctors, paramedics, police officers, and everyone else in our community. We’re writing to urge you to think about these people, and reconsider how you choose to protest.

In Barrie, our COVID cases have tripled in one week. The number of people arriving at RVH who are gasping for a breath due to severe COVID-19, is growing every day. These are our neighbours, mothers, fathers, sons and daughters. More have died in the past ten days that at any point in the pandemic, except during the Roberta Place outbreak. You have the right to protest, and should you chose to do so, do it safely. Protest online. Post on social media. But do not gather in crowds.

You may think this is about freedom, but it isn’t – you are only contributing to the spread of this virus, which in turn, robs people of their freedom by getting them sick. You are endangering the very people you think you are advocating for by making it unsafe for them to be in a public square. You may think this is about supporting small businesses but in fact, you are hurting the very businesses you claim you’re helping by risking the health of their employees and by driving potential business away. Our downtown small business owners would encourage you to reconsider.

You may think this is about opposing the lockdown, but by spreading the virus you are contributing to the lockdown lasting much longer. We all have rights and freedoms, but none of us has the right to put other people’s lives at risk. You may point to other protests – but they happened once, not every Saturday, and other organizers made attempts to mask and keep people safe. You are intentionally ignoring these safety measures.

We understand you don’t like the lockdown. We don’t either – Nobody does. But it is saving lives. It’s what we need to do right now.

Please don’t gather. It’s wrong, it’s dangerous, and it’s incredibly selfish. On behalf of all of our residents, particularly the elderly, immunocompromised, and all others vulnerable to COVID-19, please stay home.

Signed:
Mayor Jeff Lehman
Deputy Mayor Barry Ward
Councillor Clare Riepma
Councillor Keenan Aylwin
Councillor Anne Marie Kungl
Councillor Robert Thomson
Councillor Natalie Harris
Councillor Gary Harvey
Councillor Jim Harris
Councillor Sergio Morales
Councillor Mike McCann
Prepared by/Key Contact: Mayor Jeff Lehman
officeofthemayor@barrie.ca (705) 792-7900

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Mayor Jeff Lehman announced the winners of the 2020 Mayor’s Innovation Awards at the first ever virtual ceremony that premiered on the City’s social media channels. The Innovation Awards is an annual initiative celebrating and recognizing the year’s most innovative solutions from Barrie businesses, individuals and community groups.
“I’m blown away by the innovative solutions, new approaches and sheer ingenuity I’ve seen from organizations and individuals across all sectors over this past year,” said Mayor Jeff Lehman. “Our winners, runners-up and nominees really show us the adaptation and creativity we have in our community, especially in the midst of such challenging circumstances.”
The winners and runners-up of the 2020 Mayor’s Innovation Awards, by category are:
Creative Collaboration
• Xcelerate Summit committee, and Chad Ballantyne and Brandon Day of Canopy Co-working (co-winners)
• Vision Travel, Wine Journeys and Bacio Trattoria (first runner-up)
• Ontario Musicians Co-operative Inc. and Second Harvest (second runner-up)
Pivot Point
• Lucas Beggs and The Electric Motor Coil Company (winner)
• Horseshoe Valley Environmental (first runner-up)
• Multi Tech Audio Visual (second runner-up)
Community Impact
• Nikki Glahn and Barrie Families Unite (winner)
• Sara Bentham (first runner-up)
• Frontline Resilience (second runner-up)
Shift Disturber
• Michael Lalonde and the RoboTape team from Innovative Automation (winner)
• Sara Bentham (first runner-up)
• Shelly Skinner (second runner-up)
The City received more than 70 submissions, and submissions were evaluated by 17 judges from various industries and business backgrounds on criteria like creativity, innovation and the nominee’s wider contributions to Barrie’s development. The Innovation Awards are sponsored in part by consulting firm Adams Hamilton. Learn more about the winners, runners-up, nominees and Awards at investbarrie.ca/InnovationAwards.

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Rather than just feeding the meter and city coffers, turn that parking ticket into support for a local restaurant.
Effective April 14, residents who get ticketed can have it cancelled if they provide proof of purchase (a receipt) from a Barrie restaurant in an amount equal to or greater than the set fine, within five days after receiving the ticket.
The City is committed to finding creative ways to encourage residents to support local, Barrie-based restaurants through curbside pick-up and takeout options during the Provincial Stay-at-Home order. The program will be in place until May 14. The program does not apply to tickets related to safety matters.
To submit a request for the cancellation of a parking ticket, residents can email a copy of their ticket and restaurant receipt to enforcement.services@barrie.ca.

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The City was notified today that another Barrie Transit operator received a positive COVID-19 test result. The driver is the third one in the past week to have contracted the virus.
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. As the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit (SMDHU) 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. The SMDHU continues to advise that they do not consider this to be a workplace outbreak at this time.
“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
Barrie Transit staff wear a mask or face covering when working in the public areas of the indoor public space unless the staff member is within or behind a physical barrier or is in an area of the premises that is not designated for public access. The drivers do not have to wear masks as they are separated from the public by plexiglass shields installed on buses. They do need to wear masks if they exit the driver seat/plexiglass area to secure a wheelchair/mobility device, or enter the public area of the vehicle.
Everyone using Barrie Transit is reminded 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.

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There appears to be little interest from neighbouring communities about setting up a joint waterfront parking pass with Barrie.
Last summer, council directed staff to investigating the feasibility of a parking pass that would allow residents of neighbouring communities to enjoy each other’s waterfront parks and beaches. The idea didn’t get much traction, according to a staff memo.
“Since the adoption of the motion, City of Barrie staff have discussed opportunities with neighbouring municipalities of a joint waterfront parking pass. The Town of Innisfil and Township of Oro-Medonte declined participation at this time in a reciprocal parking pass that would allow both area residents to access their respective beaches free of charge, noting supply constraints, impacts on infrastructure, and safety concerns with the continued presence of the pandemic,” reads the memo.
“Although Springwater and Essa do not have available beach facilities, they felt there was limited value in a contribution from their municipality to reduce or eliminate parking fees for their residents.”
The sale of the passes net the City some revenue, but not a lot. In 2019, the City sold 23 non-resident parking passes for a total of $2,070, while in 2020, the City sold 58 discounted and 21 non-discounted non-resident passes for a total of $7,950. 
“Based on these findings, City staff plan to continue with the existing model that allows the neighbouring municipalities to purchase a non-resident pass at a discounted rate of $90 for the season in comparison to the standard non-resident rate of $130 per season.” 

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Ontario schools will move back to online-only learning following the April break, staying there until data shows it is safe for students to return to in-class learning, Premier Doug Ford said today.
The move, he said, is driven by new variants of COVID-19, causing the virus to grow like “wildfire” in Ontario, said Ford.
“I can’t stress this enough. We are at critical point right now. Many of the health indicators continue to surpass the worst-case scenario, and as we have shown since the beginning, when it comes to keeping (Ontarians) safe, this government will not hesitate to act,” he said.
“The situation is changing quickly, and we need to respond. Right now, I am extremely concerned about the new variants: the South African variant, the UK variant spreading in India, and the Brazilian variant that is spreading rampantly in BC right now.”
He again called on the federal government to tighten border restrictions to “protect us from the deadly, deadly variants of concern,” and called for decisive community action to get the spread of the virus under control.
“Our best defence right now is staying home, limiting mobility, staying the course when it comes to health and science. But the next few weeks will be critical. Right now we need to do everything possible to get ahead of these variants and, unfortunately, that means looking at our schools,” the premier said.
The problem, he continued, is not in the schools, but rather in the community. It will become a much larger problem for everyone if it spreads into the schools.
“Bringing our kids back to a congregate setting in schools after a week off in the community is a risk that I won’t take because we know that the more COVID spreads in our communities, the more likely it is to get into the schools and that would create massive problems for all of us down the road,” said Ford.
“My friends, no one wants our kids in school more than I do, that’s where they belong. But with COVID spreading like wildfire, with these deadly variants taking hold in Ontario, we simply can’t be too cautious right now. We have to be proactive, and when it comes to keeping our kids safe, I will never take unnecessary risks.”
Data that includes case numbers, hospitalizations, and intensive care unit admissions will guide the government’s decisions on reopening schools, said Ford.
Ontario recorded another 4,401 COVID-19 cases today, slightly lower than the 4,456 reported Sunday, the highest daily increase since the beginning of the pandemic, bringing the province’s total to 391,009 and 7,567 deaths.
The Province also reports that 1,646 people are in hospitals being treated for COVID-19. Of those, 619 are in intensive care units (ICUs), with 408 patients on a ventilator.
The positivity rate jumped to 9.5 percent today. 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. And on Friday, the average number of confirmed cases in Canada per million people averaged more than the United States, the first time that has happened since the start of the pandemic.

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The move to delist Wilkins Beach and allow the area to revert to a more natural state does not mean the complete loss of a sandy spot by the waterfront, according to a memo to council from staff.
“Staff have heard concerns about aspects of the proposed restoration plan, specifically with respect to the loss of sand as well as drainage/washouts. As part of the restoration work, the entire area will not be shrubbed, planted or stabilized with cobble stone and boulders,” writes Kevin Bradley, Manager of Parks Planning and Development, and Kevin Rankin, Manager of Parks and Forestry Operations.
“The proposed plan can accommodate retention of a partial sandy area although it will not be maintained in any way. This will give the experience of a naturalized shoreline area for passive enjoyment after the restoration work is completed in 2021.”
The memo arrived just before council is to hear from numerous delegations on Monday responding to general committee’s support of a staff report which recommended delisting the beach, a strategy designed to protect the area by allowing it to revert to a more natural state.
“Staff and (council) have heard from many residents in the area and this memorandum is intended to respond to and provide clarification to the most common matters raised.”
While the drive to maintain the area may have been driven by concerns raised last summer about crowding and waste-related issues, current zoning does not allow a beach at Wilkins Park, according to the memo. The park’s shoreline and stream are deemed environmentally protected lands (EP), due to the sensitive nature of the area (as a cold-water fishery). As such, zoning compliance is required.
“It is the EP zoning that is requiring the City to delist Wilkins as a beach and restore Wilkins Park to allow it to regenerate to its natural state over time. In addition, the approved Waterfront & Marina Strategic Plan recommends that the City ensures that key natural heritage features are retained and protected along the south shore, including the open creek systems such as Hewitt’s Creek that drain into the bay,” reads the memo.
“It is important to understand that this zoning conformity is not tied to COVID-related overuse in the summer of 2020; however, summer 2020 did bring the zoning issue to a head.”
What the zoning allows:
• ecological management measures
• environmental conservation
• lookout points
• naturalized buffer
• natural restoration
• trails and other similar uses where there are minimal impacts on the environmental features and functions
Other City beaches are zoned Open Space (OS), which is not as restrictive as the EP zone and permits active uses as well as playing fields, courts, parks and playgrounds and other structures. 

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“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


Ontario recorded another 4,401 COVID-19 cases today, slightly lower than the 4,456 reported Sunday, the highest daily increase since the beginning of the pandemic, bringing the province’s total to 391,009 and 7,567 deaths.
The Province also reports that 1,646 people are in hospitals being treated for COVID-19. Of those, 619 are in intensive care units (ICUs), with 408 patients on a ventilator, an increase of 28 from the previous day.
And in a development that underscores the seriousness of the situation, following a memo from Ontario Health President and CEO Matthew Anderson to Ontario hospitals telling them to “ramp down” all but emergency and essential surgeries because of the surge in COVID-19 cases, hospital have begun to do just that. The move is expected to open about 1,000 IUC beds, says Christine Elliot, minister of health.
“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,” Anderson wrote in last Thursday’s 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. Recently, 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.”

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A second Barrie Transit driver has tested positive for COVID-19, following on the heels of a recent report about another driver contracting the disease.
The City was notified late Friday afternoon that a Barrie Transit operator 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 (SMDHU) 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. The SMDHU has indicated that they do not consider this to be a workplace outbreak at this time.  
“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 is reminded 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.

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• From The City

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


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.

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From The Barrie Police Service

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.

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“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.”

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• From The City

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.
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 service.barrie@barrie.ca 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 planneroftheday@barrie.ca 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 andenforcement.services@barrie.ca. For detailed and up-to-date information on the local vaccination plan, visit the Health Unit’s website.

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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).


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.

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Premier Doug 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.


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

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“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.

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Georgian college offers 130-plus market-driven programs, from degrees and diplomas, to certificates, apprenticeships, corporate training and more. A recognized leader in co-operative education, the college has one of the highest graduate employment rates among Ontario colleges. Georgian is the first, and only, college in Canada designated a change-maker college by Ashoka U for its role as a leader in social innovation and change-making in higher education.


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 workersThey 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.

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