The City of Barrie is putting the finishing touches on a deal that would see the old Fisher stage become a fully functional auditorium and events space. Monday night’s meeting at City Hall saw the paperwork filed to transfer land ownership to the city, from the developer who bought it up along with the land where the adjacent Barrie Central Collegiate once stood. The school isn’t there anymore, but the developer left the auditorium standing in anticipation of this sale. The deal, however, was more of a swap than purchase. The City of Barrie and HIP Developments have agreed to swap millions of dollars’ worth of land, with the city ceding Red Storey Field along with a small strip of land along Bradford St. for the 1.8 hectares upon which sits the Fisher.
It is hoped the Fisher Auditorium will become a 400-seat event centre, with a standing room capacity of 800 people, full kitchen, meeting rooms, and theatre system installed. The notion that the city scoop up the Fisher land came before council last September, while the final plan on what the auditorium will look like has yet to take form. In mid-March, city staff were given the go-ahead to begin fundraising to offset the overall reconstruction costs, while a site plan is in the works. The future design may even house a YMCA facility, or have it adjacent to the Fisher. It is hoped the Fisher’s use as an Events Centre will also fill a desperate need for such a space, while boosting visitor and tourist numbers to the city.
The Fisher is expected to become the western-most anchor of a so-called “Creative Corridor” along Dunlop St. that would also include the Five Points Theatre, a nearly-completed Meridian Place bandshell, and the MacLaren Art Centre to the east.
“As downtowns have changed over the years, we can’t rely on it only it as only a shopping district for its economy.” says Mayor Jeff Lehlman “The economy of downtown has to be based on multiple things, not just one thing. One of those things is culture.”
The final vote on this transaction comes at next Monday’s council meeting.