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COLUMN: New to town? Here are some of our little secrets

Recent post on social media asked people what they would tell new residents to Barrie, so reporter Shawn Gibson came up with some ideas
2022-06-02 City of Barrie gateway sign
A City of Barrie so-called 'gateway' sign, featuring the Well Played slogan, near the southern border along Highway 400 heading northbound. Raymond Bowe/BarrieToday

A recent post on social media asked what you would tell new residents to Barrie, and what advice would you give to those just now making this city home.

Immediately, I thought that newcomers should know where all the emergency services are, what times walk-in clinics are open until and things like that.

Then I realized they can find that online. What they really need is the helpful stuff they won’t find easily on the internet.

Like if you’re waiting for a good time to travel down Bayfield Street, there really isn’t one. It's always busy and there's no relief. Also, don’t enter a business on Bayfield and then try making a left turn out of it — you’ll just anger everyone, including yourself.

As a resident of Barrie, your narrative about downtown establishments needs to change. There are not too many bars on Dunlop Street. There is an Irish pub, an English pub, a Nashville-style honky tonk, a brewery, a restaurant with a rooftop view of the lake, a burger-oriented restaurant, a historic nightclub venue and a place that seemingly changes every few months.

We love our Barrie Colts and we hope you do as well. Maybe you came from a town that has an Ontario Hockey League team and, by all means, continue to cheer for them. But never, absolutely never, do we cheer for London in this town. Never.

Barrie is actually more like two cities — the north and the south side of the bay.

While there aren’t many differences between the two, there are some. Many southies shop at Park Place, while north-enders may go to Georgian Mall. If you’re from the south end, Friday Harbour in neighbouring Innisfil may also be a regular visit, but if you’re from the north it's too far and you might as well go to Muskoka.

We only truly gather together at Costco and Centennial Beach, and at both we complain about the out-of-towners taking up parking. It unites us.

Ruanne's and 55 Special don’t exist anymore, but you’ll still hear about them often and when you do, just nod and say “sounds like it was fun,” and then ask the person talking what made them love hair rock, just to change the subject.

We may equally look forward to the Colts and Sharks season schedule, just as we do the season announcement for Theatre By The Bay. We are a strong arts community, so get involved.

We’re also not saying you can’t run for mayor if you’re under six feet tall, we’re just saying we don’t like your chances.

We have a lot of churches and social services because we have a lot of problems that are surfacing. There’s nothing wrong with praying for them, but when you’re done it's best to roll up your sleeves and help out.

The Spirit Catcher is a beautiful landmark, but it's also more and more becoming considered hallowed ground. Treat it as such.

Subscribe to BarrieToday for all your updated local news. Just saying.

City council is now on Wednesday nights and is a good way to find out all things political locally.

But if you think watching council is boring and not for you, I suggest watching the previous term and get caught up. Times were wild, man.

If you feel the need to fit in fast, the best way is to tell someone you had a nice walk along Sophia (that's So-FIE-ah) Street. Don’t question the pronunciation, just say it with confidence and move on. Or when it comes to another north-end street, say Livingstone like it doesn't have the 'e' on the end.

In the meantime, welcome to Barrie and mind the potholes.

Shawn Gibson is a staff reporter at BarrieToday.