Defunding Police to Invest in People

As shown in Barrie’s Budget Allocator tool, defunding the police by only 5% would give the city an extra $2.8M (10% would give $5.6M) to invest in people, nature, and community...

JRS Op-Ed submission by Engage Barrie

Engage Barrie is a grassroots collective that formed in 2019 to foster an equitable community, mobilize and empower people, and build an engaged local democracy.  As part of Just Recovery Simcoe, we encourage governments to provide fair, sustainable and resilient recovery solutions to uplift ALL residents.

Local government has some of the greatest impact on our daily lives — and while this pandemic has made it clear where there is need for improvement, it’s also shown the innovation and community spirit of area residents.  The more people who share their ideas, the more diverse, representative and equitable our municipal actions will become — we present only a few here.

Two people walking away down an urban path lined by trees. Photo by Alex Motoc.

Barrie's Budget

As shown in Barrie’s Budget Allocator tool, defunding the police by only 5% would give the city an extra $2.8M (10% would give $5.6M) to invest in people, nature, and community, by:

Active Transportation

 Making the city more pedestrian-friendly, encouraging active transportation, increasing health and safety for all residents, as well as the environment, by creating more and better protected bike lanes; prioritizing pedestrian traffic (eliminate “beg buttons” at lights); and prioritizing snow clearing on sidewalks, to increase accessibility and allow families to walk to school safely.

Social Infrastructure

 Increasing support of community gardens, public library, and youth services.

Supporting Local Businesses

 Making local businesses more attractive than driving to mega-stores:  Continue the weekend pedestrianization of downtown.  Create more comfortable seating areas at Meridian Place and elsewhere, to allow people to gather safely.

Public Safety

 Increasing the public’s sense of safety through better lighting and streetscape design, especially between parking lots and restaurants/shops.

Better Planning

Being more strict with developers about creating affordable housing units.  Insisting developers keep walkability, green space, and community gathering areas a major factor in design plans.


Committing to job creation in female-dominated sectors.  Expand child care funding and support, as this is a key determinant of whether many women can re-enter the workforce at all.

And, for absolutely free...

Highlight businesses using or creating alternative energy sources.

Support and uplift our Health Unit’s research and resources, and stop fighting their efforts to ease Barrie’s opioid crisis — especially their proposed Supervised Consumption Site.

Prioritize the voices of residents over corporations, and the at-risk over the privileged.  Make it easier and safer for all residents to have their say, and listen to the experience and knowledge they offer.

For more information about Engage Barrie, please visit us at

Just Recovery Simcoe is an alliance of 40+ groups from across Simcoe County and beyond.  Their core belief is that a healthy community is one that is equitable, environmentally friendly, and one that seeks to provide healthy places to live and work for all. 

Help create a just and sustainable future.

If you’d like to be a part of this initiative, or have comments or suggestions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.