Default Interior Background

Council breaks ground on long-awaited recreation facility project

Posted on Wednesday September 28, 2016
Breaking ground at rec centre
Orillia City Council breaks ground for the new Orillia Recreation Facility at 255 West St. St. on Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2016.

After decades of debate on where to locate a much-needed recreation facility for the City of Orillia, Council officially broke ground at 255 West St. S. on Sept. 28, 2016, to make way for construction of the new facility.

“Today is a wonderful day in the history of the City of Orillia,” said Mayor Steve Clarke. “Our residents have lived without a recreation facility for far too long. This Council made it our number one priority to deliver on recreation and we have certainly followed through on that promise. This facility will be much more than a place to swim, play ball, or hit the gym; it will be the social heart of our community.”

Dozens gathered at the end of Queen Street next to 255 West St. S. to celebrate the momentous occasion. Following special remarks, each Member of Council had an opportunity to “break ground” in the staging area of the construction site.

“I have been working in the City of Orillia’s Parks, Recreation and Culture Department for 25 years and to see this project taking shape is very uplifting,” said Ray Merkley, Director of Parks, Recreation and Culture. “I can’t wait for our residents and visitors to experience the level of service and wide variety of activities this facility will be able to offer them once it opens.”

Council awarded the construction of the Orillia Recreation Facility to The Atlas Corporation on Aug. 17, 2016. The $53.7 million project includes an aquatic centre (lap pool, leisure pool, and therapy pool), gymnasiums, multi-purpose rooms, a walking/jogging track, preschool room, office space and fitness centre. Included in the overall project budget is the site naturalization and landscaping of the entire 36-acre site, including trails and a pedestrian bridge that will link the site to the City’s Lightfoot Trail System.

“Our project team is now full-steam ahead on the construction of a modern, energy-efficient, and functional recreation facility that will serve the City of Orillia for generations to come,” said Kent Guptill, Director of Facilities and Special Projects. “Construction crews are now mobilized and a detailed construction schedule has been established in order to have this facility up and running by summer 2018. 

The Atlas Corporation began mobilizing on site the first week of September and is currently completing initial site preparation, which includes:

  • Site surveys and site layout
  • Service locates
  • Wash station installation
  • Temporary water service to wash station
  • Vegetation clearing
  • Clear and grade at building pad
  • Clear the existing mound of soil at the front of the site
  • Prepare a working platform for the rammed aggregate piers installation
  • Cap and build a granular road around the building pad

Drilling of the rammed aggregate piers, the foundation system selected for the building, will commence after Thanksgiving and will continue through December. The import of clay material that will be used to cap the brownfield site and the import of the soils from employment lands in West Orillia will commence in early November. It is anticipated that forming of the foundations will start early in the New Year and storm and sanitary system and permanent water service will be underway in spring 2017.

Construction of the facility will take approximately two years, with an anticipated summer 2018 opening. For more information on the recreation facility project visit

The City of Orillia is a city of 31,000 people in the heart of Ontario’s Lake Country on the shores of Lake Couchiching and Lake Simcoe. Visit our website at