Barrie at this point and time is in need of and in a position to provide some key economic growth. That future growth is likely to come through entrepreneurial enterprises that can only take place with stepped up efforts by municipal leaders to create an “ecosystem” that will stimulate this growth and attract the people needed to sustain and develop it. Many of the elements necessary are pre-existing.
More than 4 million people live within an hour of Barrie. It has international air, sea and rail transportation close by and a major 6 lane highway running through its centre.
Barrie is a family friendly City that provides a healthy balance of urban, social and recreational landscapes. The financial and human capitol exists in Canada and Ontario to support such growth and it is the duty of municipal leaders to attract that capitol to Barrie and to take calculated risks in this direction.
Barrie will never become a computer or communications technology center like Kitchener Waterloo, they have had a 25 – 30 year head start. There is a new technology revolution that is in its infancy and that is Green Technology. Add Barrie’s climate to the above mentioned assets and it is clear it is the perfect grounds for industries that will develop the next generation of home energy and green technology systems.
One such company in Barrie, Yanch heating and air conditioning has proven successful breaking new ground figuratively and literally in the area of ground source home heating and cooling while Geep and GreenGo of Barrie are on the leading edge internationaly in electronic waste recycling, though relatively few are even aware. Barrie should be celebrating these and other similar tangible successes.
It is that celebration that creates awareness while it stimulates and inspires others to take it further. The recent Ecofest along Barrie's lake-shore was a good start. Barrie, as a city needs to invest at least as much of its municipal efforts and resources into entrepreneurship as it does into the Arts.
Barrie has a large sloping hillside facing south and in plain sight of the millions of people who pass through along the 400 highway en route to points north every year. In June many leaders and representatives from most countries in the industrialized world, while headed to the G8 Summit, will drive through Barrie in clear view of that empty hillside.
That hillside served as Barrie's city dump for the past half century and is a prime and symbolic location for a solar energy farm along its slope that could be crowned with wind turbines to catch the North West winds that whip over it throughout the year. What a symbol to all who approach Barrie along the northbound 400 highway that Barrie is a budding world leader in Green technology development.
Green technology could be Barrie’s future if its leaders deliberately step out of the safety of the box and take some smart risks.
Barrie has many thousands of square feet of industrial space much of it vacated by industries the likes of which it will never again see and thousands more acres of yet to be developed industrial ground. Barrie needs to take a very serious look at how it will fill those vacant industrial spaces over the next few years and develop the action plan that will insure it happens.