‘New life’: Downtown Market Task Force to present terminal plans on Monday evening
“The west end of downtown needs some love; businesses have struggled to build the new streetscape and the pandemic,” adviser says
Redevelopment projects in Barrie’s downtown Market District are on the rise.
City councilors will consider approving a motion Monday evening that approves, in principle, the concept of a Barrie Bayside market area centered on converting the Maple Avenue transit terminal into a year-round market , as well as the construction of a new Barrie Farmers’ Market building of at least 10,000 square feet nearby.
“Creating a permanent market in the existing transit terminal and building a new structure nearby to house the Barrie Farmers’ Market will breathe new life into the west end of downtown,” said said Deputy Mayor Barry Ward, chair of the Market Area Task Force. “We can take examples like the ByWard Market in Ottawa and St. Lawrence Market in Toronto to see how markets can create vibrant neighborhoods.
“The market will be a place where people can not only shop, but also come together as a community,” he added. “Its location is perfect, serving as a link between the waterfront and downtown and Meridian Square and the proposed performing arts center at the Fisher Auditorium site. The pedestrian nature of the market area complements what we have already begun to do with the wider downtown sidewalks, patios and Open Air Dunlop.
Com. Keenan Aylwin, who represents Downtown and is also a member of the task force, said the project was working for him.
“I’m very excited about the Bayside Market Area project,” he said. “The west end of downtown needs some love; businesses have struggled through the construction of the new streetscape and the pandemic.
“A year-round public market will serve downtown residents, current and future, but it will also be an attraction for tourists who come to enjoy our beautiful downtown,” said Aylwin. “Public investment in the market area will bring people downtown. More people on our streets means a safer and more vibrant downtown.
Ward said the area is already seeing residential and commercial redevelopment with the Debut Condos currently under construction immediately north of the market site and the SmartCentres development a five-minute walk away, between Bradford Street and Lakeshore Drive.
“Over time, I expect the market to attract traders to the surrounding commercial area, filling the vacancies we now see in the area and creating a market district,” he added.
The Ward 4 Councilor also said his task force had not come up with a cost for the conversion of the bus station and the construction of a new Farmers’ Market building. He notes that the city commissioned a 2016 report, which estimated the cost at $5.6 million to $6.5 million. A 2017 architect’s report put the cost at $8.9 million, Ward said, though he offered ways to reduce that cost.
“Obviously the costs have gone up and these reports were estimating the cost of a 7,500 square foot building for the farmers’ market,” Ward said. “Our report recommends a 10,000 sq. ft. building.”
He said part of the city’s money will likely come from the city’s reinvestment reserve, which is funded by dividends from Alectra of Barrie and earmarked for community projects. Ward expects there will also be federal and provincial funding, particularly for the Farmers’ Market building.
“The city would definitely ask for federal and provincial funds and hopefully they would cover at least half of the cost,” Ward said. “I have met with provincial ministers of agriculture every year for a decade and they have all seemed enthusiastic about the project. Simcoe County may also contribute funding as farmers in the county will benefit.
The task force recommended hiring a staff member or consultant to begin planning the project, including obtaining letters of intent from vendors and seeking funding from other levels of government, Ward said. Actual construction could not begin until the bus terminal operations are transferred to Allandale, currently estimated for spring 2023.
“This architect’s report from 2017 estimated the project would take around 16 months, including design, so we would be looking at a time in 2024,” Ward said. “I think the timing is actually good because some of the residential projects nearby will be nearing completion by then. People living within a 15-minute walk of the market will form the core of daily visitors.
Ward said the response to the task force’s survey was more than encouraging.
“The fact that more than 2,000 people responded to our survey indicates that there is great interest in this project,” he said. “An impressive number of these respondents took the time to offer feedback on what they would like to see.
“In summary, I would say they wanted to see a market that was a gathering place and a lot of people used the word ‘vibrant’. This means that it is not enough to build the structures. The area should be lively every day with activities such as street performers, games, public art and events. The market itself will be the draw, but in-person shopping today is also about the experience,” added Ward.
The motion councilors will vote on Monday night also says the city would hire a contract employee or consultant, with a budget of $100,000 funded from the reinvestment reserve, to perform a number of tasks associated with the project.
This includes preparing a plan to convert the Transit Terminal into a permanent market and constructing a new building to house the Barrie Farmers’ Market, taking into account various consultants and staff reports over the past seven years, and the needs of the Barrie Farmers’ Market. on the design of the building he would use.
There would be grant applications and sponsorship opportunities to cover the capital costs of the project, a business case for the market prepared as well as an enclosure plan including a programming strategy, identification and implementation. implementation of market operations, detailed designs for permanent market and farmers market. , and signs.
A streetscape master plan strategy would be prepared, including possible recommendations for changes to the official plan, zoning by-law and community improvement plan, a marketing and recruitment strategy would be undertaken, boutique programs ephemera would be prepared and there would be collaboration with the developers.
Letters of intent would be obtained for market vendors, a public art policy sub-committee would be created, or there would be work with Barrie’s existing public art committee.
Market construction costs would be included in city capital budgets beginning in 2023.
The city could also consider acquiring land in the immediate area of the market district if it turns out that additional property is needed.
City staff would report back to Barrie councilors via memo with expected timelines and resource requests associated with the task force’s recommendation by the end of March 2022.
If Monday night’s motion passes, it could be considered for final approval at the Feb. 14 city council meeting.