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Proposed boat show raises safety concerns for nearby school

Company wants to rent East Bayfield Community Centre for a week in February 2020, which would displace programs to other city facilities
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Editor's note: Barrie city council approved the rental agreement at its meeting on Jan. 14, 2019. 

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An event dedicated to fishing, boats and the great outdoors could cast its way into East Bayfield Community Centre next winter. 

But with the excitement that comes with an event which could see 15,000 to 20,000 people go through the doors also comes safety concerns for neighbouring Terry Fox Elementary School. 

Continuum Productions has requested to rent the Livingstone Street East community centre and its parking lot from Feb. 3-10, 2020, for its boat, fishing and outdoor show. The rental fee would be $50,000, plus costs related to city staffing and equipment. 

The agreement still has to be approved by city council. 

While lending his "full support" to the rental proposal at this week's general committee meeting, Coun. Doug Shipley, whose ward includes the East Bayfield facility, also raised the issue of student safety at neighbouring Terry Fox Elementary as parents drop off their kids. 

"For that week, I'm very concerned about that," he said. "It is going to be not just chaotic, I'm worried about the safety for the kids."

With the event being in the late winter and in the event of a possible storm, Shipley said there will a lot more parents using the school's kiss-and-ride, so he wanted to make sure there was communication with the Simcoe County District School Board.

Mayor Jeff Lehman noted the city has "struggled" with the public school board in the past over drop-offs at Terry Fox.

"We're continually having to use our parking bylaws and enforcement to deal with the problems that are caused by the board refusing to allow parents to drop kids off on school property," said Lehman, adding with a newly elected board of trustees at the board, perhaps the discussion could be raised again "a little more strongly."

Renting out East Bayfield would also affect several groups that use the centre. Affected groups and programs include the Barrie Women’s Hockey Association, Barrie Minor Hockey Association, Barrie Trojan Swim Club, recreational rentals and drop-in programs.

Drop-in programs would be moved to other community centres, although daytime Aquafit programs as well as morning practice times for Barrie Trojans would remain at East Bayfield for the Tuesday to Thursday only. The fitness centre would be closed for regular annual maintenance. 

Shipley said people who use East Bayfield for activities such as swimming, hockey or the gym will be "well taken care of," as programs will shift to other centres in the city. He said a big part of making the outdoor show and the facility rental work is communication with local residents. 

"There is going to be a significant impact," he said. 

The Ward 3 councillor also said this is new territory for the city. 

"We haven't done a lot of these at our community centres, especially in mid-winter, so I'm a little hesitant," Shipley said. "And I know we're going to get the phone calls ... (but) we can handle that and hopefully everybody will understand it's for the betterment of the community."

Organizers say the show would include more than 140 companies in the area that deal in watercraft, fishing gear and other related wares. The community centre's pool will be used for kayak and canoeing, for example.

Continuum Productions, which formed in 2005 and has held several boat and home shows around southern Ontario, would be responsible for all show-related costs, such as ticketing, cleaning, equipment and all production costs.

As part of the arrangement, Continuum Productions would also supply or donate a watercraft that could be used or auctioned to raise money for local user groups. 

If both Continuum and the city believe the event is successful, it could be extended for two more years. 

"As a pilot, it'll be interesting to see what the impact is," Lehman said. 




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Raymond Bowe

About the Author: Raymond Bowe

Raymond is an award-winning journalist who has been reporting from Simcoe County since 2000
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