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icons Council Strategic Plan Report

Usage of Public Spaces

Usage of Public Spaces is one of three key performance indicators relating to the Building Stronger Neighbourhoods priority, one of five priorities outlined in City Council's 2018–2022 Strategic Plan.

Why this Measure Matters

The most impactful measure of a great public space is that it is used by the community, however, this is also extremely difficult to measure.

2020 Performance: 150,000

Usage of waterfront beaches and Meridan Place181,500150,000
Source: The Recreation & Culture Services department tracks beach usage for our lifeguard operations event programming at the waterfront. As we identify better ways to measure usage of other public spaces, we will add additional public spaces to this measure

Beach attendance for 2020 was approximately 150,000 compared to 134,500 in 2019. This was due to several factors:

  • Centennial Beach was open for an extra week in 2020 due to the lateness of Labour Day weekend (Sept 5th-7th)
  • Lifeguard service was extended an additional 12 days up to the Friday of Labour Day weekend (Sept 4th)
  • Many GTA residents migrated north to beaches in Simcoe Muskoka due to the closure of beaches in the Toronto area due to COVID restrictions
  • The Town of Wasaga Beach closed their beaches to non-residents which may have diverted visitors to Barrie’s waterfront

Use of our outdoor recreation facilities (sports fields, tennis courts, and beach volleyball) was severely limited by COVID restrictions on the playing of team sports. Outdoor tennis and pickleball courts were available for use with restrictions on length of play, number of participants, and social distancing requirements.   

Attendance was not tracked at Meridian Place in 2020 as there were no events scheduled at this site due to the restrictions on gatherings. The downtown BIA did conduct some activities on Dunlop Street once the majority of the street-scaping project work was completed, such as Open Street Dunlop.

2020 Activities

Plans for 2020 included increasing the number of special events permitted throughout the City and to work with key stakeholders such as the BIA to increase events at Meridian Square. Additional funding for beach lifeguards was approved by City Council which saw lifeguard service extended by an extra week due to a late Labour Day weekend at both Centennial and Johnson’s beaches.

Previous Years' Activities


2019 peformance: usage of the waterfront beaches and Meridan Place was measured at 181,500 users. This represents an Increased year-over-year performance of 14,000 or 8%.

2019 Activities

Outdoor Recreation facilities (sports fields, tennis courts, and beach volleyball) accounted for over 60% of total recreation facility booking hours in 2019. There was a slight decline in Community Group usage of these outdoor facilities versus 2018 due to an excessively wet spring resulting in field closures.   

By the time our beaches opened for summer on June 29, 2019, the weather was cooperating with many warm, sunny days. Total usage in 2019 was 134,500, an increase of 10,000 from the prior year which was primarily due to the Air Show and also partly due to a four-day extension of our lifeguarding services.

Estimated attendance at Meridian Place events was almost 47,000 compared to 44,000 the year prior. This was primarily driven by an expanded Lawnchair Luminata series of events including Mindful Mondays Yoga, outdoor films on Wednesdays, and the live music series on Friday evenings.

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