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Orillia council envisions new 'neighbourhood' at waterfront

Posted on Thursday December 07, 2017
Waterfront Proposal
Waterfront Proposal

Townhouses, condominiums and detached homes are envisioned in a conceptual plan that would dramatically transform Orillia’s downtown and waterfront.

“We are going to create a neighbourhood down there,” said Coun. Tim Lauer, chair of a waterfront working group.

A development scenario, supported in principle by council, would intensify the number of people living and working in the downtown core.

The plan contemplates residential and commercial development on the site currently occupied by the city-owned Front Street Plaza, along with adjacent municipal lands west of Centennial Drive.

“The plan anticipates Coldwater Street going right through to Centennial and the south portion of the plaza being demolished and redeveloped,” Lauer said.

Council selected a preferred development concept that includes 12 live/work units, 55 townhomes, 17 single-detached homes and more than 54,000 square feet of residential condominiums.

The plan includes a residential and commercial component along Mississaga Street East.

“What we will be looking to protect is the basic concept of ‘people first,’ ” Lauer added. “Putting a residential community down there. How much of it is also retail will be up for discussion when the time comes.”

A ‘Downtown Tomorrow Plan,’ adopted in 2012, set out a vision for a revitalized city core with a call for improved connections between the downtown and waterfront.

The concept newly supported by council would see two- or three-storey townhouses lining the west side of Centennial Drive and facing the waterfront, Lauer said.

“They are rear-parking townhouses, so you wouldn’t have any cars parked in front of them,” he added.

Lauer said the lands would be sold to a developer on a cost-recovery basis, adding that council would likely use a request-for-proposals to find a developer who would adhere to the spirit of the concept.

The plan is achievable within five years, Mayor Steve Clarke added.

“A revitalized downtown waterfront will transform the area, bringing in new residents to the downtown, creating jobs, boosting tourism and increasing the city’s tax base,” Clarke said.

The waterfront working group has been working with Leith Moore, of Waverley Projects Inc., on the development concept.

Staff will undertake a detailed implementation analysis and report back with timelines and budget requirements in early 2018.

By Frank Matys, a reporter for Orillia Today.