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LETTER: 'Bureaucrats can't see north of Barrie,' laments citizen

Councils need to step up because 'if our area is left out we will miss out on the ongoing provincial and county funding' related to growth, warns letter writer
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County of Simcoe

OrilliaMattters welcomes letters to the editor (dave@orilliamatters.com). This letter is in reference to a story published Oct. 3, titled, 'Simcoe County's population poised to explode. What should it look like?'
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Preliminary information provided by the province identifies the primary growth areas that are poised to handle most of the local growth that will come by 2051 are Alliston, Bradford West Gwillimbury, Alcona, Collingwood and Penetanguishene/Midland.

The city of Orillia and the Townships of Severn and Ramara are ignored. Once again the provincial bureaucrats can't see north of Barrie!

Let's look at some of the things they are missing.

Driving north of Barrie on Highway 11, our area is just 30 minutes north on a four lane divided highway to the City of Orillia, Severn and Ramara Townships. Compare that to the drive from Barrie to either Collingwood or Penetanguishene/Midland on mostly two lane, non-divided highways.

As you drive by the Line 7 of Oro-Medonte you pass Lake Simcoe Regional Airport which is growing and attracting development.

When you reach Orillia there is Lakehead University which has been supported by the County of Simcoe financially since inception and is seen as the county's university. With the proper courses it will continue to grow. Georgian College has a bustling campus with social work and law and security courses.

In non-COVID times, Casino Rama has attracted thousands of visitors as well as being a large employer in the area. Its prominence will return.

The head office of Ontario's Solicitor General, which includes the OPP, is located in Orillia. If the province is fixated on water, they should be reminded of the Port of Orillia and Orillia's position as one of the main ports on the Trent-Severn Waterway.

Hydro One originally was going to build a secondary switching station at Orillia. I believe it is now intended to eventually replace the Barrie operation. That could lead to additional growth in collateral industries including cyber-security.

My last comment is a personal conviction that I have long held. As an interested observer of growth patterns in Ontario since the building of Highway 400 from Toronto to Barrie I have noticed the increased importance of east-west traffic flow. Notice the constant improvements of 7, 88 and 89.

When you reach the Barrie area: “Is there anything else the province can do for Barrie's road network?” I think not. But, Barrie has no potential for east-west traffic because it is located on Lake Simcoe.

Lake Simcoe extends north to the narrows at Orillia. That is the logical place for the next east-west traffic route. At the present time we only have the Highway 12 by-pass, which can be a motorist's worst nightmare.

Traffic flow will also grow as population grows north of Oshawa, on the east side of Lake Simcoe and Highway 404 expands north. It will naturally flow to the Highway 12 by-pass.

As a longtime supporter of growth in the area I would hope that the councils of the City of Orillia and the townships mentioned will have a robust response to the province and the county.

If our area is left out we will miss out on the ongoing provincial and county funding for the necessary improvements that come with growth. The taxpayers of our area will have to pay more in the long run.

Doug Lewis
Orillia

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