GO plan real crafty
It seems like a perfect match: GO Transit dropping visitors to Barrie's new lakeshore train station during Kempenfest.
Plans are in the works to run the commuter train during the city's largest event. And the local business and tourism sectors are hoping this is just the beginning.
The arts and crafts festival draws an estimated 200,000, more than any other single local event. Train service could help alleviate some of the local traffic and parking woes associated with the event and, maybe, help in the overall initiative of limiting car use.
"We tried to get a weekend pilot going in conjunction with Kempenfest," said Richard Forward, Barrie's manager of infrastructure, development and culture. "It's better to time it when the second station is in the downtown."
Come the summer of 2012, there's hope that people from the Greater Toronto Area can board the train to Barrie for the August long weekend event. When they disembark, it will be right across the road from the event they've come to visit.
The hope is that Kempenfest is just a start. Forward sees the new train station as a perfect port for more opportunities.
"Kempenfest is one we're considering," said Daniel Haufschild, Metrolinx director of policy planning. "We're looking at the feasibility of it.
"It's something we're interested in doing ... I think it's a natural."
Hany Kirolos, Barrie's director of strategy and economic development, sees that special service as the beginning of something beautiful. The train could well be the local link to those living in the country's densest population hub.
"It's going to have access to 6.5 million people, that's who's south of us," said Kirolos. "Clearly, the game is going to change substantially once the waterfront station opens."
He sees it as an economic driver for Barrie.
Kathleen Trainor likes the prospect of rejuvenating the old train station to its former glory and reintroducing a train service for tourists, which helped to define this area during the first half of the 20th Century.
"I'm glad that the City of Barrie is on the radar with Metrolinx," said Trainor, the executive director of Tourism Barrie. "Part of our future lies with the GO Train.
"A very positive future lies with GO Train travel."