OrilliaMatters received the following letter from Buffi Woronka about the transformation of the Burl's Creek property in Oro-Medonte Township.
I have lived in Oro since 1970. We are a two-minute drive from Boots and Hearts/Burl's Creek.
I have 'watched' the property go from an unused farm (1970 to 1980s) to the Barrie Automotive Flea Market (BAFM) and in the past three or four years to Boots and Hearts. For 45 years, the adjacent property was a speedway for car racing. This ended in 2015. The Boots and Hearts people closed it.
They spent many months dismantling the concrete, asphalt and buildings. The environmental impact of gasoline spills, oil penetration into the land, tire dumps and soil contamination of a myriad of chemicals, we can only imagine.
The noise pollution, (races until midnight each Saturday for six months of the year); air pollution (does not need an explanation) and ground pollution over 50 years is thought provoking. I didn't mention batteries and battery acid seepage but that would not be amiss. Driving under the influence took place as some patrons left after the races closed in that state.
RIDE programs were not in place and crashes into surrounding ditches were common. We actually had a car roll in front of our house. The four males inside managed to get out but they were so inebriated that they did not know where they had been. In this case it was the Barrie Automotive Flea Market they had attended. These were early days of BAFM and, subsequently, better controls were put in place for drinking and driving.
Fast forward to October of 2015. A neighbour told me that Boots and Hearts had purchased the BAFM property. I hadn't a clue what Boots and Hearts was and it was alarming news. A week later, there was a public meeting put on by Boots and Hearts to introduce themselves to the residents. It was attended by many friends and neighbours.
I was uncomfortable by the tone of the meeting but not from Boots and Hearts - from Oro Medonte people. At the end of the meeting, cards were handed out by Boots and Hearts staff. They encouraged people to call them and have them over. We did. The staff members who came over were impressive and professional. They answered our questions and we felt better.
But the proof was in the pudding. They had many months to prepare for that summer's concerts. It turned out that the professionalism of Boots and Hearts as well as extreme preparation and the support of OPP, medical professionals, traffic movers and good communications has made these events better than we hoped in terms of invading our property.
We can barely hear the music and, most of the time, we hear nothing. The Ridge Road is quieter than on a normal weekend. We are aware of traffic entering the grounds on the 9th and the 7th. But it does not pose a long wait or, most of the time, any wait at all.
The property itself has been cleaned up and cleared out. Derelict vehicles, rusted equipment, toxic agricultural chemicals and falling down sheds have been disposed of.
Likely one of the best reconstructions of a 19th-century barn has been accomplished. The fields are in better shape than they have been in almost 50 years.
Suffice to say, we are not affiliated with Save Oro. I can understand those across the road on Line 7 are seriously impacted at certain times.
We considered very seriously about moving when BAFM came on Line 8. Coupled with the Speedway, which could be heard for many kilometres in the Township and the arrival of large and noisy events as well as traffic tie ups for long distances ... we thought about it. But we can honestly say that living close to the property as it is now, is easier in all ways.
This letter is not meant to inflame, disparage, annoy, set up debate with or encourage interaction in the printed word with other residents who have the opposite point of view. I think that we are possibly one of the very few locals who have lived this life, in close proximity to this property.
We have spent nearly 50 years loving our Oro life, raising our kids and living a rural lifestyle on a piece of property that is honestly not negatively impacted by Boots and Hearts.
I would have to say that of all the neighbours that have inhabited that acreage since 1970, this has been the most satisfactory. I honestly believe that Dave and I have an accurate and historical and unique point of view with regards to living in such close proximity to what is today known as Boots and Hearts.