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Fact-Check: Waterfront Multi-Use Sports Field – City's "Myth VS Fact" video

Updated: Jun 19

Earlier today, the City and Mayor released a "Myth VS Fact" video regarding the proposed multi-use sports field in the naturalized area of the southshore waterfront. There are several confusing and/or erroneous claims made in that video, which we would like to help fact-check, to clear up misinformation.


All of our fact-checking is based on the City's own documentation, including meeting Agendas and Minutes, Staff Reports, and Barrie's Waterfront Strategic Plan. We've included a list and links below, as well as a summary of what did (and did not) happen at each related meeting of Council and Committees, under the heading "Documentation"


See Also


We will also be creating a webpage shortly to compile all the relevant information -- stay tuned!


Fact-Checking

To begin with, the "myths" the city's video was attempting to refute either came from the city's own staff reports and discussion in council, or have been taken from sources unknown and do not appear in any of the "official" correspondence of the people organizing or joining the outcry against this proposal, nor in the petition against the proposal. This insinuation that public opinion against this project is based on "mythology", as well as disdain of the public's actual concerns is incredibly disrespectful of both the city's residents and public process.


City's Claim:

  • "Myth: Council approved a location that would result in the entire centre of the woodlot being removed"

NOT a Myth:

  • Staff Report DEV019-24, presented at the May 8 General Committee meeting (at which this concept was first introduced to the public) clearly shows the design of the field in the centre of what is currently woodlot. It further labels parcels of land on either side of the proposed sportsfield as "Re-Naturalization Area". i.e., according to its own staff report and design rendering, the sportsfield location WOULD result in not only the entire centre of the woodlot being removed, but also the entire centre of the Re-Naturalization Area



City's Proposed Sports Field (May 8)
Current aerial of Southshore

City's Claim:

  • "Fact: In response to resident feedback, Council directed staff to:

    • protect the woodlot;

    • make the field smaller & closer to the road; &

    • consider the use of natural barriers over fencing

  • Rendering has been amended based on Council motion"

Only Partially True, Mostly False

  • City Council approved only one amendment to the motion in their May 15 meeting, the exact wording being "to ensure that the field meets the minimum size requirements to accommodate the sports identified and to minimize impacts to the surrounding environment, including tree removals".


  • Council did NOT direct staff to "protect the woodlot", although they did direct to minimize impacts on the surrounding environment and trees

  • Council's amendment did NOT direct staff to make the field smaller, it directed staff to ensure the field met minimum size requirements for the sports (soccer) identified

  • Council did NOT direct staff to make the field closer to the road - the road was not mentioned at all, nor the placement or orientation of the field

  • Council did NOT direct staff to consider the use of natural barriers over fencing (it was mentioned in discussion, but was not part of the motion)


City's Claim:

  • "Myth: The Sea Cadets parade ground and multi-use sports field can go anywhere else in Barrie!" [exclamation point theirs]

Inflammatory: Opinion Based on Evidence is not a Myth

  • The City may disagree with this opinion, but painting it as misinformed is incredibly disrespectful

  • Further, those opposing an artificial-turf sports field at the waterfront did not reduce their arguments to "anywhere else", they gave many possible choices, including retrofit of the many existing and under-used sports fields the City already owns and manages


City's Claim:

  • "Fact: The Royal Canadian Sea Cadets require access from Kempenfelt Bay to a parade ground to practice their Royal Canadian Navy traditions."

Questionable

  • The Sea Cadets currently are able to practice their Royal Canadian Navy traditions without a parade ground with access from Kempenfelt Bay, so it seems this is a desire rather than a need

  • Even if they do have a new-found need for a parade ground with access from Kempenfelt Bay, we have been unable to find any need of the Sea Cadets for that parade ground to be as large as a soccer field or be covered in artificial turf.


City's Claim:

  • "Myth: They are destroying the waterfront path and cutting down the forest!" [exclamation point theirs]

Not A Myth

  • The staff report's design concept (above) clearly shows that the sports field would be superimposed over and block at least two loops of the waterfront path (the wildflower trail and surrounding wildflower areas), and cut into a considerable portion of the existing forest

  • Even the revised concept, announced June 18, would cover those portions of the waterfront path (wildflower trail) and surrounding wildflower areas

  • This revised concept does cut into less of the forested area, but is still destroying a significant portion of the natural environment currently protected in the Waterfront Plan



City's Claim:

  • "Fact: There are no changes to the city paved walking path and the woodlot is being protected.

  • If there are any trees that may need to be removed, they will be replaced

  • Council has committed to planting an additional 1,000 trees on the waterfront"

Partially True, but Misleading

  • The first point specifies that it's only no changes to the "paved" walking path, which may be true, but both the original and revised design do show that portions of the unpaved walking paths (i.e., the paths through the natural areas of the south shore) will be changed / removed

  • While there will be fewer trees destroyed in the updated design concept, the woodlot will still not be fully protected, and this is still only a concept design being provided to the public - the direction in Council's motion does not specify that these trees will be the only ones spared

  • Removed trees may well be replaced, but by saplings - it will take decades before the potentially destroyed tree canopy is restored.

    • Newly-planted saplings do not replace the habitat (both woodland and field) of the many animals currently living in and feeding from the naturalized area.

  • Council's commitment to planting 1000 trees on the waterfront was an amendment to the Waterfront Strategic Plan passed in 2023, with no connection to the separate Sea Cadet Relocation motion or the sports field project.


City's Claim:

  • "Myth: They're building a huge dome for elite sports teams only!" [exclamation point once again theirs]

A Myth of Unknown Origin

  • There has been no mention of a dome in either the petition nor any of the correspondence we've seen shared, other than mention of the fact that the existing Sports Dome appears to be under-used


City's Claim:

  • "Fact: There is no dome or stadium being proposed. The parading ground and open air uncovered multi-use sports field will be for community use."

True and False

  • There is no dome or stadium being proposed (although seeds were sown during council discussion that expansion would be needed down the line)

  • Conversations in both General Committee and City Council made it clear that the proposed sports field would be fenced and locked when not booked for sports teams, therefore not available to the general public / community - according to both the city documentation, public deputations, and discussions around chambers, the only sports teams interested in the field were soccer, so not representative of even the broader sports community


City's Claim:

  • "Myth: This project is inconsistent with feedback received during the Waterfront Strategic Plan consultation.

  • Fact: Sea Cadets parade ground and multi-use sports field is consistent with the themes from the Strategic Plan including:

    • More recreational opportunities

    • More people of all ages on the waterfront &

    • Encouraging a longer season of use"

False

  • Nowhere in the Waterfront Strategic Plan, nor its appendices, is a multi-use sports field mentioned

  • Yes, there is a focus on "more recreational opportunities", but that focus is on watersports (swimming, rowing, canoeing, kayaking, sailing, boating, windsurfing, scuba diving, etc.) and winter sports (wind and kite surfing, snow shoeing, cross county skiing, etc.), NOT field sports of any sort

    • These referenced uses of the space would do more to enhance all three of the city-referenced themes of the Waterfront Strategic Plan than a fenced-off sports field only available to the Sea Cadets and the one sports organization that appears to want this field in that location

  • The Waterfront Strategic Plan, AND the feedback summary, explicitly and repeatedly states that the preservation of existing shoreline, and new naturalization and restoration projects are a priority


City's Claim:

  • "Myth: There was no public consultation!"

Not A Myth

  • It does appear that the Sea Cadets, Soccer Club and other interested parties were spoken to, but there was absolutely no public consultation on the clearing of naturalized waterfront land for a multi-use, synthetic-turf sportsfield

  • Please see our Position Paper on Community Engagement to learn more about public consultation and its importance to decision-making and democracy: https://www.engagebarrie.org/_files/ugd/44e330_29edfe567e5c49c1a7b908b127ab524c.pdf


City's Claim:

  • "Fact: City Council publicly received a presentation and feedback in favour of this project in 2023"

False


City's Claim:

  • A staff report was presented to Council on May 8, 2024. Council received deputations from the public on May 15, 2024 and based on this feedback directed staff to make changes to minimize the impact"

True

  • Although the extent of the changes, as discussed above, were minimal.



Documentation


All of our fact-checking is based on the City's own documentation, including meeting Agendas and Minutes, Staff Reports, and Barrie's Waterfront Strategic Plan. If these links are changed in the future, please contact us for copies of the documents in question.


Waterfront Strategic Plan


Staff Reports


General Committee Meeting, May 8, 2024

Summary:  

  • Council approved the motion that the "Premium Synthetic Turf Multi-Use Sports Field Concept" described in the Staff Report , with $4,622,777 of taxpayer funds going towards it, and $37,122 be included in the budget for annual maintenance

  • The proposed design presented looked like this:




City Council Meeting, May 15, 2024

Summary:  

  • Councillor Courser (seconded by Harris) moved to defer the motion until further public consultation could be undertaken. This motion lost, with only Councillors Courser and Harris voting to allow proper public consultation.

  • Councillor Hamilton (seconded by Thomson) moved to amend the motion by adding to paragraph 1 "to ensure that the field meets the minimum size requirements to accommodate the sports identified and to minimize impacts to the surrounding environment, including tree removals". This amendment carried, and was the only change to the previous week's direction.

  • The motion, as amended, was approved by all but Courser and Harris - approving the original design concept, as long as it met the minimum size required for the sports uses, and minimized tree removals.



See Also


We will be creating a webpage shortly to compile all the relevant information -- stay tuned!


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