City Council navigates unprecedented term with 'new and innovative' ideas to help residents, businesses

(Barrie, ON) COVID-19 has changed many things, but throughout the pandemic the City of Barrie has maintained core services, while taking action to help residents and businesses.

On March 23, Mayor Jeff Lehman declared a State of Emergency in the City of Barrie. The declaration is part of the City's ongoing efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19 and ensures municipal government can continue to act and respond quickly. Council and staff have worked together to keep City business moving and aid in the economic recovery.

“During the pandemic, the City adapted quickly to continue to provide vital services to residents with new and innovative options," says Mayor Jeff Lehman. “I'm very proud of our staff for quickly providing and supporting technology to help us continue our services virtually. Council has been able to pivot and refocus efforts to approve new policies and programs while facing this crisis."

Shortly after the state of emergency was declared, Council, General Committee and Planning Committee meetings moved online and are live streamed on the City'sYouTube channel and Rogers TV. There have been over 15 virtual meetings since the pandemic was declared and these meetings are open forpublic participation. At virtual meetings, Council approved several motions to help residents and businesses, including:

elimination of late fees for property taxes and water/wastewater billsresidentialwater/wastewater bill relieffree garbage bag tags for residentsPatios Everywhere programloading zones on Dunlop St. for customers to support downtown businessesDunlop St. pedestrianization planCOVID-19 Business Response Action Planresident-only waterfront parking lotsEconomic Recovery Action Plan

Council has also continued work to foster a safe and healthy city over the last few months. They have continued to advocate the County and federal government to support and invest in Barrie for supportive housing, including theapproval of a motion at last night's Council meeting to support construction of 60 to 80 new supportive housing units by the end of 2022, to help address chronic homelessness in Barrie.

As well, Council passed a motion that anAnti-Racism Task Force be established in the city. Its purpose will be to work with police, school boards, community groups, municipal organizations, social services, business, labour and government agencies to facilitate a stronger understanding of the needs of the City's racialized residents.

The City has responded during COVID-19 to offer recovery initiatives, continue city improvements, keep citizens safe and offer new programming during the pandemic, such as:offering theDigital Main Street's ShopHERE program, which helps independent businesses and artists build a digital presence and minimize the economic impact of the pandemicimplementing changes toBarrie Transit, including free service, increased cleaning and adding safety measures to keep riders safe. Masks will be mandatory on buses when front door boarding resumes in mid-July

continuing to invest in roadwork projects as the city grows—theHarvie Rd./Big Bay Point Rd./Highway 400 crossing is expected to open in late falllaunching theSeniors Centre Without Walls, the City'sTogether at Home programming andvirtual events to engage with residents

Last night, Council set direction for the 2021 Operating and Capital Budget, which will continue to help guide the City through the COVID-19 pandemic, while ensuring that the community and its residents are supported. Council is committed to ensuring the City responds to these changing times quickly and appropriately, increasing precautionary measures as needed and guiding city services, businesses and residents through this difficult time.

For the latest updates to City services, visitwww.barrie.ca/Services or contact Service Barrie at 705-726-4242 orservicebarrie@barrie.ca with questions about City services or programs.

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Media Contact
Melanie Rumley
Communications Advisor
The City of Barrie
(705) 739-4220 ext. 4578
melanie.rumley@barrie.ca