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LETTER: Sports field on natural habitat makes no sense

'I am not sure if you have ever walked through the area, but this serene, quiet oasis is a treasure that needs to be protected,' says reader
On June 18, the City of Barrie released this revised map showing how the waterfront sports field could be configured along Lakeshore Drive.

BarrieToday welcomes letters to the editor at [email protected] or via the website. Please include your full name, daytime phone number and address (for verification of authorship, not publication). The following is an open letter to Barrie Mayor Alex Nuttall about the multi-use sports field along the city's lakeshore

I appreciate that you and members of council have been inundated with emails and phone calls regarding the proposed multi-use sports field that has been approved by council, to be built on the last natural habitat of Barrie’s waterfront.

I am typically not one to take this step in reaching out, but feel strongly that we need to speak up.

My wife and I have been a residents of Barrie for over 50 years and have witnessed significant change in our city, and have supported progress so that this city remains a vibrant and welcoming community. Our two boys played hockey, soccer, football and rugby so we know how important having access to sports fields and facilities are an integral part of youth development and being part of a team.

The proposed development of a multi-use sports field, however, is one project that baffles us and the other 6,445 (and growing) Barrie residents who have signed the petition that does not support this project.

My wife and I listened to the 30-plus deputations when this item was being voted on and heard members of council say that they have difficult decisions to make, but with all due respect, this is an easy decision to make based on a sound rationale.

I don’t believe that any Barrie resident would not disagree that additional sports and recreation spaces are needed, but the building of such a facility on our last natural habitat on our spectacular waterfront makes absolutely no sense. I am not sure if you have ever walked through the area, but this serene, quiet oasis is a treasure that needs to be protected.

I would like to share the following for consideration:

  • Why have no alternate locations been explored? Council has not shown Barrie residents that this is the best and only location for this type of facility.
  • Offering public consultation after a project has been approved is a slap in the face to Barrie residents. Barrie’s waterfront belongs to all Barrie residents and, as such, consultation should take place in advance of this going before council for consideration.
  • The city promotes good stewardship, but is proposing to install a plastic soccer field next to our beautiful waterfront. Have we not learned anything regarding leaching and contamination? Look to the City of Toronto and you will find that significant plastic leaching has been noted in their waterfront and is directly related to artificial turf among other pollutants.
  • Installation of this field will displace significant habitat. We have walked through the area many times and I can tell you there are many animals, birds., etc that have made this area home. Again, not good stewardship of the land should this habitat be wiped out.
  • Parking is already a challenge around the waterfront. Why would we want to add more congestion and exacerbate parking issues in the area? Also, are you expecting parents who bring their kids to play soccer and other sports to pay $10 each time they park at Southshore Centre, or or you going to offer free parking to the select groups that will be using the sports field?
  • Barrie’s waterfront belongs to all residents and diverting from the strategic plan that involved significant public consultation is again an insult to Barrie residents.

Mayor Nuttall, as one of the 6,400-plus Barrie residents who have signed the petition that says no to the proposed multi-purpose sports field, please take this back to council and reconsider the implications of moving this project forward.

Barrie residents deserve better. Leadership is not about winning, but rather leading to the betterment of all. It's time to show real leadership.

James and Marg Moran