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Location, location, location: Protesters hold second rally opposing sports field

'The place bothers me. I’m not against the field. It took years and years to make (the waterfront) so beautiful and now they are going to destroy it,' says Barrie resident
Protesters gathered in the Barrie City Hall courtyard Wednesday night to show their opposition to a waterfront sports field on the city's southern shore.

This protest literally has legs.

A few hundred people swelled the Barrie City Hall courtyard Wednesday evening in opposition to the planned synthetic turf, multi-purpose youth sports field and parade grounds near the waterfront.

It’s the second rally against the location of the field, which is slated for city property east of Military Heritage Park along Lakeshore Drive.

That location seems to be the rallying cry for protesters, and Friends of Allandale Station Park, who organized the rallies.

“I’m not saying it’s all negative, but just because you can put it there doesn’t mean you do,” said Rick Irvin, who lives near the north shore of Kempenfelt Bay. “Put it where it doesn’t cause damage to that treasure (Barrie’s waterfront).”

Irvin said there was no notification, no public input on city council’s decision.

“I expect better of city (council) people,” he told BarrieToday. “It’s inappropriate and a poor use of the land.”

Susan Christensen, who lives in Barrie’s Tollendale area, said she had a basic reason for being at the rally.

“Because (the sports field) doesn’t need to be there,” she said. “There are other places it can go.”

Christensen said the Sea Cadets and Navy League could do their marching at Queen's Park, near the Barrie Armoury, for example.

“This is a whole park they could use,” she said.

Marg Avery, who lives in the Minet’s Point area, said it’s just location for her.

“The place bothers me,” she said. “I’m not against the field. It took years and years to make (the waterfront) so beautiful and now they are going to destroy it.”

Ed Prins, who lives on Drury Lane, has a logistics problem with the sports field being there.

“The parking would be crazy,” he said. “You don’t want any more congestion down there. If you have a couple of hundred cars down there, too…”

Terry Leigh said it’s all about protecting what’s already there.

“We have a sanctuary we are blessed with, a sanctuary for people and nature,” he said of the sports field site, “and it should be preserved.”

The rally’s goal was to convince city council to revisit the issue and have a different outcome.

A simple majority of council is required to revisit a motion within six months of its approval, or defeat, according to Barrie’s procedural bylaw. The sports-field motion passed by a 9-2 vote. Coun. Amy Courser and Coun. Jim Harris, who represents this part of Barrie, voted against the sports field being built there.

Last month, council essentially approved the field and an addition to Southshore Centre for the Sea Cadets' new home. A permit is required from Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority, because its regulated area crosses the sports field’s top portion. An archaeological assessment is also needed.

The field would be for soccer, rugby, football and lacrosse, and marching, and there could be amenities such as lighting, benches and site furnishings. The field shown would measure 100-by-154 metres in size, while the Southshore addition would be 600 square metres, for a total building cost of $9.15 million. 

Barrie Mayor Alex Nuttall has said plans are afoot for a smaller sports field area, although its precise dimensions are still being determined by city staff.

During the past week, sports-field opponents have also launched a campaign where there is now a ‘crew head’ in each ward of Barrie, leading teams of volunteers knocking on doors to make more citizens aware of the waterfront proposal.

Barrie residents are asked to read and sign a hard-copy petition, scan the QR code or sign the online petition itself asking council to consider a different location for the multi-purpose sports field. They were signing the petition at Wednesday evening's rally.

Organizers encouraged Barrie residents who do not agree with the multi-purpose sports field being located near Barrie's waterfront to meet for the peaceful rally.

This property is zoned and designated open space (OS), which permits the development of a multi-purpose sports field. Accessory uses permitted in OS zoning include bleachers, a club house, concession stand, refreshment pavilion or booth. Parking is also permitted within OS zoning. A paved asphalt, 35-stall parking lot is proposed for the sports field.

The project includes a premium synthetic turf, multi-purpose sports field concept, and is estimated to cost $4.6 million. The funding will come from three city reserves — development charges, tax capital and cash-in-lieu of parkland.

The cost of replacing a synthetic turf field is projected, for a 10-year cycle, at almost $1.34 million for the turf itself, shock pad and line markings.

Not included in the project is a permanent washroom/change-room facility, with an estimated cost of between $650,000 and $1 million.

A city staff report says what’s next is the project’s tender preparation, the requests for proposal (RFP), from June to July, the RFP bid evaluation and award, August to September, its design from September to December, and construction from October 2024 to July of next year.

The Sea Cadets, long located near the Spirit Catcher, would move to a 600-sq.-m. addition to what’s now named General John Hayter Southshore Community Centre, a northerly extension to the basement of the existing building. It comes with a $4.55-million price tag.

At this point, $300,000 has been committed for the addition’s plan and design. City staff will report back to councillors for future construction funding approval, once costing is refined through the design process. No funding source for the Southshore’s Sea Cadets addition has been identified by the city.

A online petition, started May, 7, 2024, ‘Say no to developing a multi-use sports field and parade ground at SouthShore/Allandale Park’ had 6,127 signatures on Wednesday night. It can be found by clicking here.

There is also another online petition, started June 7, 2023, that the ‘Navy League Barrie petitions the City of Barrie for a multi-use facility on Kempenfelt Bay’ with 2,106 signatures, again as of Wednesday night. It can be found at by clicking here

BarrieToday also ran a web poll last week asking readers for their input on the sports field's location. Solely intended as a sampling of public opinion, 3,260 respondents took part in the poll. The results can be viewed by clicking here.