Arrival of new students and residents continues to divide the Ward 1 residents. While, the Ward 2 residents are more concerned about supervised consumption sites, climate change and affordable housing.
Last week Mayor Jeff Lehman joined councillors Clare Riepma and Keenan Aylwin of Ward 1 and 2 respectively for a town hall meeting. We have divided the town hall into three separate parts, grouped the similar questions together and edited the responses so you can get up to date information in minimum possible time. Use the timestamps in the video description to navigate to different parts.
In his opening remarks, Lehman talked about the new challenges due to recent increase in covid-19 cases, the expected approval of the vaccine for five to 11 year olds, opioid crisis and housing shortages.
Arrival of new students and residents continues to divide the city especially Ward 1. It has a strong international student population which of course rents rooms during their studies at Georgian College. There has been new development on the existing properties to satisfy the growing housing needs. A small section of residents have been opposing the new development. During the meeting, residents asked questions about the absentee landlords and by-law officers allegedly hired to carry out targeted reinforcement of student rental units.
For the residents of Ward 2, social housing and the proposed supervised consumption site were the primary concerns. Councillor Aylwin continues to be a strong supporter of both.
There is a lot of development going on in Barrie whether its building or maintenance of roads, or new residential and commercial developments. Mayor and councillors provided updates about them.
This year the County of Simcoe purchased the old Ontario Provincial Police station at Rose street. The plan is to build social housing after demolishing the existing building. A resident wanted to know the plans to manage traffic after families move in.
Rental units occupied by students near Georgian College have been a subject of heated debate over the past few months. Many residents in Ward one have demanding regulations targeting absentee landlords who rent mostly to students. The city has rejected the discriminatory policy as it might not stand in the courts. However, the city has put up more restrictions to limit building of additional units on the same property and plans to hire more enforcement officers targeting student tenets, most of them are international students.
After two years of extensive research and consultation, the Barrie City council approved a supervised consumption site at 11 Innisfil st. Recently, MPP Doug Downey published an online survey on his website inviting residents to once more let their views be heard. A resident wanted to know the city’s plan to support residents. Mayor tried to assure that “police are going to be very aware that the success of the SES is contingent on people feeling safe, not just the users but the neighbors.”