Province announces millions in support for Barrie-area tourism industry

Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Lisa MacLeod tours the MacLaren Art Centre along with Barrie-Springwater-Oro-Medonte Doug Downey and Barrie-Innisfil MPP Andrea Khanjin on Thurs. Aug. 5, 2021 (Luke Simard/CTV News Barrie)

The province is continuing its push to promote Ontario-based tourism with new support for enterprises in the tourism sector across Barrie and the surrounding area.

On Thursday, Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Lisa MacLeod announced approximately $2 million in funding to support multiple businesses in the tourism and culture sector. MacLeod says many in the industry have been amongst the hardest hit and will take the longest to recover from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"These investments, although they may seem small compared to getting a hospital or a school built, are actually the cultural fabric of our communities," MacLeod says. "It is also the backbone of our economy. Prior to COVID-19, I often would say that this ministry represented a spectacular double bottom line."

MacLeod made the announcement at the MacLaren Art Centre, along with Barrie-Springwater-Oro-Medonte Doug Downey and Barrie-Innisfil MPP Andrea Khanjin.

Some of the funding, which will partly come from the Ontario Trillium Foundation, includes:

  • Over $70,000 into community museum operating grants to the Simcoe County Museum
  • $271,000 to the Barrie Public Library
  • $45,800 for the MacLaren Art Centre
  • $77,000 for Talk is Free Theatre
  • $140,000 for renovations at Royal Canadian Legion Branch 147

MacLeod says the funding is vital, arguing many took the tourism sector for granted before the COVID-19 pandemic. She says that along with culture and tourism, it brings in approximately $75-billion in economic activity.

"So those sectors that we're responsible for at the Ministry of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Cultural industries punch way about their weight, and we take them for granted," MacLeod says. "We took them for granted prior to COVID-19, but I think now as we look around and we see the unemployment rate, we see the jobs that have been lost, we see the people that have been impacted."