YMCA reveals $50-million plan for downtown Barrie

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Ontario Construction News staff writer

The YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka has unveiled the design of a new $50-million facility planned for downtown Barrie.

“This just makes so much sense,” Mayor Jeff Lehman said at Monday’s council meeting. “The synergies with the library right next door, how our downtown is going to have two public buildings of kind of similar scale and similar orientation.

Barrie is currently negotiating an agreement of purchase with the YMCA for the site which is less than two acres. Also, the YMCA has requested a $2.5 million contribution from the city.

“I don’t want to rain on the parade… but it’s quite an ask with the land and everything,” said Councillor Robert Thomson.

The province has committed almost $30 million for the new facility, $5.5 million has been raised in the community and $25 million will come from the County of Simcoe, leaving a $7.6 million funding shortfall.

“We believe that building on the site adjacent to the library supports the city’s vision for the downtown core,” xx said in a presentation to council.

“The Y will bring increased foot traffic into the core to support local small businesses. With intensification coming to this neighbourhood, it is important to provide amenities to support this development. This location will also serve the rest of Barrie, in particular the east end that does not host a city-owned recreation centre.”

The facility will include a childcare centre, health and fitness amenities, swimming pools, community meeting spaces and an indoor playground. It will also provide space for cancer and cardiac rehabilitation programs delivered by Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre (RVH) and transitional housing for youth.

“What a stunning design this is,” Councillor Mike McCann said, reviewing the artist renderings. “I hope what we get is really close to this.”

The previous YMCA facility is now the proposed site for three buildings that will range from 21 to 25-storeys, a five-storey podium and a standalone eight-storey mid-rise building, for a total of 928 residences. The site plan remains under review by city planning staff.

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