On 7/21/13

Bonnie Wrote to the Barrie Examiner

 What is your vision for our Waterfront?

 Is it possible taxpayers of the city of Barrie will be squeezed out of their parks and off beaches by tourism?  Could throngs of visitors and perpetual disruption to our limited waterfront park area and beaches be the ultimate price locals have to pay for a WOW factor, whatever that might be?

What is this shiny brass ring called Tourism?  What does it look like?  Who does it benefit? The answers depend on who you talk to.

Some say Tourism is a very important economic driver and Barrie must strive to become a destination for all seekers of excitement, entertainment and commerce.

Some say Tourism is intent on destroying all sense of community, jamming everything up and eventually making life in Barrie insufferable for those who enjoy any semblance of tranquility.

At the cost of maybe sounding selfish is it really necessary to invite tourists to come by trains, planes and automobiles?  What about us, our families and those from out of town who stopover to visit us?  Might we one day be heard saying “would love to take you down to our beautiful waterfront but it is just way too busy; we don’t really go anymore”.  Is there a tipping point when locals start to feel crowded out?   

Should we strive to be Canada’s Mackanic Island, Miami Beach’s Bayside Market or even a mini Stanley Park?  Every day could be like Kempenfest!

Perhaps we should aim for a beautiful passive waterfront with flower gardens, room on sandy beaches for our enjoyment, plenty of shaded benches inviting lazy summer afternoon watching of bobbing sails on our sparkling Bay.

Can we find some common ground between pulsating vibrancy and passive sublimity?  If we consider how the waterfront showcases today including ongoing events and festivals we already come close to occupying that middle ground.

I understand people with pools, boats and cottages being somewhat blasé about tourism at any cost so long as their little sanctuaries remain intact.  I get it that local merchants and restaurateurs need clientele for viable operation. What about the rest of us, what price are we expected to pay?

I think the Waterfront Master Plan is very impressive but it should not include waterfront commercial entities, especially not a restaurant. In keeping with Uptown revitalization objectives, more emphasis on signage and pathways leading to private sector shops and eateries on Bradford and Dunlop Streets seems more appropriate.

I was also disappointed to notice there is no mention of public access to the water’s edge along the North Shore Trail. Why are there no plans for steps down to landings where people can toss in a fishing line or let their doggies go for a swim on a hot summer’s day.  Seems like a lost opportunity for public enjoyment and very shortsighted to me.

Let’s please forget WOW; welcome all tourists who are fortunate enough to discover Barrie with open arms and concentrate on keeping and enhancing our waterfront for the pleasure of locals today and future generations.

Bonnie Ainsworth