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Groundbreaking ceremony at Barrie-Simcoe Emergency Services Campus

Dignitaries, including politicians and the top brass of local paramedic, police and fire services took part in a the ground breaking ceremony. Sue Sgambati/BarrieToday

Dignitaries took shovels in hand for a ceremonial dirt toss to mark the groundbreaking at the Barrie-Simcoe Emergency Services Campus.

The $103.3 million hub will see the Barrie Police Headquarters, County of Simcoe Paramedics and Barrie Fire and Emergency Service Dispatch Communications all under the same roof in a modern facility on Fairview Road in Barrie.

Local dignitaries and representatives from Barrie police and fire departments and County of Simcoe Paramedic Services joined politicians and city staff for the symbolic groundbreaking.

Mayor Jeff Lehman called it a 'very significant day.'

"I don't need to say that Barrie is growing. There's another 100,000 people coming to this city in the next 25 years and the requirements on all three emergency services will be that much greater as a consequence," Lehman said. 

The Mayor noted that more than ever, the work of emergency services requires more collaboration.

"The fundamental idea of putting all the services together, aside from the cost savings, aside from all of those great benefits that come along with the physical construction together, there's the fact that the services can work together in a much more integrated fashion by being co-located on the same campus."

Lehman said the Fairview Road property was chosen for its central location.

"When you take a look at Barrie from 30,000 feet above we are literally almost bang on the geographic heart of the community," Lehman said.

"The savings here are $15 million dollars. So yes this is a project with a big price tag because it's several projects in one. But by doing that we save our taxpayers an enormous amount of money," the Mayor said 

Another almost $400,00 in annual operations and maintenance costs that would be saved.

"This is a major investment from the County of Simcoe.  It's life saving and life changing if you get there in time in an area where seconds matter. The facility marks the future of emergency services in Simcoe County," said Simcoe Warden Gerry Marshall.

The County is contributing almost $24 million towards the campus.

In 2016, County of Simcoe Paramedics responded to more than 63,000 calls.  22,000 of those calls were in the City of Barrie, 4,300 in Innisfil, 1,800 in Oro-Medonte, 1,700 in Springwater and 1,400 in Township of Essa.

"This location permits for timely access as well response to an area that has seen a growing number of call demands."

The facility is scheduled to be complete in early 2020.