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May 14, 2009

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Grim Reaper

Right on! And if it hadn't been for a dedicated group of neighbours, council members sitting on the COA and a good friend of the MP would have destroyed the last remaining Victorian structure in town too!

Robert Viera

I can appreciate history and architecture but I think we have to be careful that our appreciation of the past doesn't get in the way of living in the present and improving our community for the future. While we may look back fondly on the accomplishments of the past, we shouldn't allow those to restrict the opportunities that the current generations have to shape their community. By all means take photographs for the history books and erect statues and plaques to tell the stories of Barrie's history, but why try to hang on to an old deteriorating privately-owned building when the city is trying to renew and revitalize it's downtown? What some of these old buildings downtown once were, they no longer are today. Let us recognize the past, but not live in it. We can recognize the accomplishments of past generations, but we shouldn't allow that to stop us from trying to improve on their achievements.

Laurie

Hey Robert,

It sounds like you'd fit right into the adaptive reuse school of preserving old buildings -- blending the old ones with new ones, for a new use today. The only example so far in Barrie is the MacLaren Art Centre -- which took the old Carnegie library, polished it up, turned it into an incredible gallery with those beautiful arched windows and then added a new modern wing, and united the two with a heart and gathering area. It really is incredible.

There are lot of other examples too - BCE Place in Toronto, the Bank of Canada building in Ottawa. These show the past can stand up to the new (literally), adapt to our changing needs and interact well with today's architecture.

It's exciting to see what could happen at Allandale in this same vein; I hope you attend the public consultations.


Robert Viera

Hi Laurie,

I remember the old library fondly. Looking up books in the card catalogue. Checking them out with library cards made of paper. Jogging up flights of stairs to get to the non-fiction books. Then, as now, I didn't have much time for fiction. I seem to recall the shelves reaching higher and the space between them being narrower than those in the new library, and I can remember enjoying the feeling of being surrounded by books. Would I want to go back to those days? No way! The new library is such an improvement over the old one in so many ways. The most notable improvement is simply the amount of space in the new library, not just space for books, but space for people. The large open spaces in the new building give the library a sense of grandeur befitting a storehouse of humanity's greatest achievement: knowledge. The second thing I noticed was the air conditioning in the new library, which would be appreciated by anyone who spent much time upstairs at the old library on a hot day. There are some things that I don't like about the new library. It's not as quiet as the old library was. Machines beep and hum. Children play. People socialize and generally seem to have less regard for quiet study. I think the role that buildings play in our lives is more important than the aesthetic or historic qualities they have.

As for the old Allandale train station, it's heyday was before my time. If I had known 15 years ago that it and the property on which it sits would still be sitting unused today, I probably would have said "tear it down".

Term Papers

Barrie must truly focus and work to appreciate, preserve and highlight its stories,whether told in buildings, organizations or in individuals.that is why we read their stories.

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