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New Sea Cadets facility could drop anchor near Southshore Park

Navy League branch president calls Southshore Park 'a perfect location. It’s on the non-motorized side of the bay'
This photo shows the approximate location for a new Sea Cadets/Navy League facility in Barrie proposed along the southern shore of Kempenfelt Bay.

Barrie’s Navy League/Sea Cadets could be setting sail for a new facility on Kempenfelt Bay.

On Wednesday night, city councillors will consider initial approval of a motion to endorse, in principle, Southshore Park as its future location, pending a $200,000 feasibility study next year, including a site investigation, cost consulting and initial public and stakeholder consultation. Staff would then report back to the city’s infrastructure and community investment committee.

Construction costs for a new Navy League/Sea Cadets facility, its associated site work, project costs, contingency and construction costs are estimated at $4 million to $6 million in 2023 figures.

“It’s a perfect location,” said Diane Chislet, Navy League Barrie branch president. “It’s on the non-motorized side of the bay, where we have those buoys up, so that would definitely help with our safety. 

“It’s just a really great spot to be sailing from and that’s the whole program — sailing," she added. 

This map shows the proposed location for a new Sea Cadets/Navy League facility along the southern shore of Kempenfelt Bay in Barrie. | Image supplied

The new facility could be located between the Rotary Fish Habitat Islands and Southshore Centre. The southern shore of Kempenfelt Bay makes most sense as the new spot, officials say, as the western and northern shores lack the land capacity to hold a new facility.

Relocating the facility from its current location, at 11 Simcoe St., would also free that city-owned land for redevelopment, although what that would be is not part of the motion councillors are considering tomorrow night.

But construction on a new facility might not begin until 2026.

“No, it’s really not soon enough as far as I’m concerned,” Chislet said, “but it is so much better than what we’ve had over the last 30-some years, so I’ll take it.”

Last month, the Navy League's Barrie branch submitted a facility request to the city. It includes inside storage for all sailboats and safety boats, masts, life-jackets and helmets, a residential kitchen, gender-specific washrooms, including shower stalls, gender-specific change rooms, a classroom area for on-land training, secure storage for equipment, secure storage for uniforms and an office, a paved ramp to the water floating docks, secure outdoor storage for gas shed, and a total estimated facility area of 4,500 square feet.

“We will be fundraising, but it will be for the inside of the building, not the construction,” Chislet said. “It will be a City of Barrie building itself, so we will be fundraising for anything that we want or need on the inside. That is where our responsibility kicks in.

“If I could, we would definitely chip in some, but I haven’t won the lottery yet," she added.

Southshore Park is zoned open space and the permitted uses include a boat house and boat launch. It offers a level water entry and the potential for a two-storey building.

The adjacent Southshore Centre may have availability for evening training meetings throughout the year, according to city staff, and the nearby Military Heritage Park offers a thematic link.

This location also hosts the existing use of passive watercraft sports through the Barrie Rowing Club and the Barrie Canoe and Kayak Club, stationed in Southshore Centre.

Flanked by Barrie Marina and the Bayfield Street Basin Transient Marina, the current Sea Cadets building on Simcoe Street has been city property since 2016 and the Navy League/Sea Cadets have a lease of approximately 24 years there. The property, which includes a 60-by-40-foot, two-level boathouse, is located between Maple Avenue and Bayfield Street. The boathouse is used for repairs, storage, meetings and events as well as a general gathering place for parades and movie nights. 

But as Kempenfelt Bay has become busier with boat traffic, the Sea Cadets have looked for a new facility.  

Founded in 1943, the Royal Canadian Sea Cadet Corps No. 53 Barrie is now one of only four remaining locations in Ontario where Sea Cadet units located in central Ontario can go to complete their central nautical support training on water, including sailing levels, shortwave radio and safety on water training up to instructor level.

Programs are free for Barrie Navy League Cadets (No. 24 Navy League Chambly) ages nine to 12 and Barrie Sea Cadets (No. 53 Royal Canadian Sea Cadet Corps) ages 12 to 18 to join. The only financial obligation of a cadet’s family is to assist in fundraising.

The Navy League's Barrie branch says enrolment prior to the COVID-19 pandemic was approximately 80 to 90 Sea Cadets and 75 Navy League Cadets in their annual program.

The branch also manages approximately 50 cadets for each of the two-day weekend sailing programs during 17 weeks of the summer and approximately 200 Navy League Cadets during the summer weekdays.