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Federal government invests $14M in Barrie and area tourism sector

Barrie, Ont., and its neighbouring communities are getting a big boost in funding to support their tourism sectors and help local economies rebound from the pandemic.

On Monday, ministers responsible for tourism and economic development were in Barrie to announce a combined $14 million in federal funding to support Barrie and the surrounding communities of Bruce, Grey and Simcoe.

The communities all attract millions of visitors all year round to their tourist attractions.

“Today’s announcement for the tourism sector and community infrastructure in Barrie and surrounding regions will help to bring back visitors, drive tourism and support communities so they are well positioned for a strong future,” said Filomena Tassi, the minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario.

“Our government is committed to making smart investments that put people first, improve public spaces and grow local economies that work for everyone.”

The nearly $14 million from the Tourism Relief Fund and the Canada Community Revitalization Fund will go toward 45 projects.

The federal government said in a release the money will be used to enhance tourism attractions to welcome more visitors, and improve public spaces to create jobs, grow local economies and provide accessible, public community spaces.

Of that funding, $1.4 million will be going to the City of Barrie to revitalize and construct play courts and playgrounds, install new energy-efficient lighting, and rehabilitate the landscape at John Edwin Coupe Park and renew the streetscaping around the Barrie Public Library.

“There is ample opportunity in Barrie, which is what attracts folks to our area. This funding is not only going to help our community bounce back post-pandemic but support the growth and development of our local economy in a substantial way,” said Alex Nuttall, mayor of Barrie.

In 2019 Barrie saw more than two million domestic visitors contribute $300 million to the local economy and support more than 8,000 jobs in the community, with an additional 85,000 international visitors spending almost $36 million in the same year.

Also highlighted during the announcement was Hardwood Ski and Bike Inc., in Oro-Medonte, which received a contribution of up to $100,000 to purchase and retrofit a modular trailer with industrial kitchen equipment.

“Our motivation is to keep a great outdoor facility alive for families to enjoy for generations to come. Thanks to this support through the Tourism Relief Fund delivered by FedDev Ontario in southern Ontario, we have been able to build a new food service facility and improve the experience of visitors to the resort,” said Gareth Houben, president of Hardwood Ski and Bike Inc.

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