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Thursday, February 15, 2007

Barrie councillors will be getting down to work

Barrie councillors will be getting down to work on their strategic priorities this Saturday.
At 8:30 a.m. at City Hall, they will meet to discuss what mark they want to make on the city during their four-year term.
“We have a 20-year plan and that is meant to be the broad vision,” said Rebecca James-Reid, the city’s strategic services director. The vision includes waterfront excellence, safety, attracting diverse industries, protecting the environment and enhancing transportation networks.
“We want this term of council to make their mark on the 20-year plan. We’ll ask them what areas do you want to focus on.”
Barrie created its 20-year plan in 2003, under former Mayor Jim Perri. Former and longtime councillor Steve Trotter chaired the committee, which gathered public input.
The plan also included strategies to enhance civic pride, through culture and recreational programs, a strong city core, environmental stewardship, public-private partnerships and a responsive, accessible city government.
Shortly after the previous council took office in December 2003, it set its 10 priorities, all specific actions based on those broader goals. Those priorities were then posted on the wall of the council chambers, to keep councillors focused as they went about doing the city’s business.
They included protecting Lake Simcoe and Little Lake, attracting higher-paying jobs, bringing back the GO train, downtown revitalization, influencing a new deal for cities and managing growth. Others were improving the waterfront to bolster tourism, developing a long-term financial plan, completing the construction of the Holly Recreation Centre, which is now being built, and improving corporate communications.
James-Reid noted that Saturday’s session will start with a presentation outlining senior staff’s priorities, as well as a summary of what input was gathered during the mayor’s open houses in January and early February.
“We had some great positive feedback,” said James-Reid.
“Citizen comments ranged across the board. We saw a lot of comments on the arts, recreation and facilities, development and growth, downtown redevelopment, economic development, and the need for the city to attract diverse investment.”
As well, emergency preparedness and concern for the environment were also on people’s minds, as well as taxes and access to health care.
The Barrie Business Board has already joined the discussion, as it submitted five items it wants council to consider at Saturday’s session.
In a letter circulated Monday, the group urged the city to continue its efforts to attract industry, to continue with downtown revitalization, to expand its boundaries, to implement the city’s cultural plan, and to protect the environment.

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