An awesome time was had last night involving conversation, snacks and a game that may end up adding to Barrie’s view of Kempenfelt Bay.
Come Explore Moments Of Awesomeness was an event at the Creative Space hosted by the Ontario Water Centre (OWC). The OWC is an organization which began in 2014, with roots from the Ladies of the Lake Conservation Association from 2006, with goals to better the water and watersheds within a community through creating awareness and an action plan. Hilary Van Welter is the director of the OWC and fresh off a successful project in Georgina is excited to get started in Barrie.
“We did a full project recently funded by the Lake Simcoe Southern Georgian Bay Clean-up Fund and a range of other municipalities and community groups,” said Van Welter. “We took a different approach of how to explore unused or under-performing spaces and how they could be vehicles of change for a community while also being change for the lake. Barrie has so many parks and also unused land by the lake that it would be great to not only put them to great use for the community but do it with an awareness for the lake.”
The OWC is involved with many projects, all with the intent to bring in biodiversity through unique types of designs that people are interested in. The focus of the the organization for Barrie is Sam Cancilla Park which is on Dunlop Street just east of Mulcaster. Formerly Bayview Park, it was renamed in 2015 after the alderman who fought to keep it away from development before his death. Van Welter knows that the people in Barrie love their green spaces and water and the Come Explore Moments Of Awesomeness event was to provide questions that would provoke well thought out answers with a positive outcome for what to do with Cancilla Park in the near future.
“It's a bit more fun than just a random poll and you get lots of positive feedback as well,” said Van Welter. “We collect the information from tonight and take it city staff where they can evaluate what the park really needs to be, what is the next story for Sam Cancilla Park and especially what is the new purpose for the park. At the same time, we provide insight as to how to keep the relationship between the park and the lake healthy; it is about bettering the whole area environmentally and residentially.”
The OWC’s most recent success story is that of The Link in Georgina; a multi purpose community hub with a hospice, a food pantry and health and a wellness recreation centre. The focus on the building and structure left an open asphalt space that needed attention. Van Welter says that there is a huge part of the community that now serves a revitalized purpose.
“We were told to just leave it or even to dig it up and reuse the concrete but we knew it could be better than that,” said Van Welter. “We actually created a forest in the asphalt, dug down and created a really cool pattern with trees, shrubs and different herbs which is now called the Forest of Possibilities; it is also where the Farmer’s Market is now held. So instead of looking at the space as unusable or a victim of the times, we turned it into a wonderful gathering space with again, an environmental conscience.”
The OWC will get the report and recommendations to city staff by the end of the year to be evaluated before taking the official proposal to the residents and then to city council.