Default Interior Background

Waterfront Development

Waterfront Development Project

The City of Orillia purchased the 5.5 acre commercial plaza at 70 Front Street North in 2016 in order to facilitate the extension of Coldwater Street to Centennial Drive. As the City owns other lands that are adjacent to the plaza property, there is an opportunity to create a larger parcel that is approximately 8 acres in area that could offer greater opportunities for redevelopment and downtown revitalization. The City has the ability to sell surplus lands through a simple property sale, however, since the City is able to offer a larger strategically located parcel within the downtown core, Council wanted to ensure that any future development would be transformative in nature, compatible with existing uses, and consistent with the vision set out in the Downtown Tomorrow Plan before releasing the land to a developer. The Waterfront Development Analysis project scope included a core development analysis which encompassed a market sounding (discussions with market experts/developers), review of potential partners and land assembly options, concept sketches, phasing options and a pro-forma for the preferred development (cost analysis).

Notice of Public Meeting re: Municipally-Initiated Official Plan Amendment and Zoning By-Law Amendment on December 21st, 2018
Draft Waterfront Official Plan Amendment
Draft Waterfront Zoning By-law Amendment

Background Information

In September 2012, the Downtown Tomorrow: Linking Orillia's Core to the Water study (or Downtown Tomorrow Plan as it's commonly referred to) was received by Council. The Downtown  Tomorrow Plan recommended 33 Strategic Initiatives, and 20 Priority Action Items to better connect the downtown core and waterfront areas. Within these goals, the Plan identified opportunities to extend several City streets to the waterfront (viewscapes), redesign and extend Centennial Drive and extend the retail experience to the waterfront.

In 2015, the Orillia Port Area Public Realm Plan was adopted by City Council in principle. This Plan supports the implementation of seven of the Downtown Tomorrow Plan’s strategic initiatives and recommends guidelines for the private realm area surrounding the Port of Orillia. Significant public consultation was undertaken during the preparation of this Plan. 

On January 22, 2016, the City acquired the property located at 70 Front Street North. One key factor in the City acquiring this property was to facilitate the extension of Coldwater Street through this property to connect with Centennial Drive.

Since this acquisition, Council established a Waterfront Working Group (WWG), consisting of four members of Council, with staff support from a number of City departments.

In February of 2017, the WWG presented a report to Council outlining opportunities to reprioritize a number of planned road reconstruction projects in order to enable an acceleration of necessary road and infrastructure improvements in the waterfront area, to better position lands for development.

In March 2017, the City retained Leith Moore, of Waverley Projects Inc., to undertake a development analysis of the 70 Front Street North site together with portions of other surrounding lands owned by the municipality. Mr. Moore was tasked with assisting Council and City staff in understanding the development potential of the subject lands in order to determine how best to market the site and adjacent municipally-owned lands in a manner that may best facilitate the redevelopment of the area.

In December 2017, the WWG brought forward Mr. Moore's Development Analysis seeking direction as it pertained to the Preferred Development Concept.


Preferred Development Concept

Preferred Development Concept

3D Model of the Preferred Development Concept

Reports and Presentations

Supplementary Memo - January 21, 2019

Waterfront Development Team Report to Council Committee - January 14, 2019

Supplementary Memo - December 21, 2018

Public Meeting re: Planning Matter (Addendum) - December 21, 2018

Staff Report – Public Meeting Nov. 26, 2018 - Waterfront Redevelopment Lands OPA/ZBA

Waterfront Development Implementation Plan Report to Council Committee - August 13, 2018

Waterfront Development Implementation Plan Presentation to Council Committee - August 13, 2018

Waterfront Working Group Report to Special Council Committee - February 21, 2018

Waterfront Working Group Report to Special Council - December 1, 2017

Development Analysis - Presentation to Council December 1, 2017 (by Waverley Projects)

Due diligence reports and investigations completed for 70 Front Street North:

Phase I Environmental Site Assessment

Phase II Environmental Site Assessment

Supplemental Phase II Environmental Site Assessment

Screening Level Risk Assessment

2018 Groundwater Sampling Event

Due diligence reports and investigations completed for City-owned Vacant Lands:

Phase One Environmental Site Assessment

Phase One Environmental Site Assessment - Figures

Phase One Environmental Site Assessment - Appendices, 1 of 2

Phase One Environmental Site Assessment - Appendices, 2 of 2

Phase Two Environmental Site Assessment

Remedial Action Plan - Mixed Land Use

Remedial Action Plan 

News and Updates

News Release - Dec. 21 public meeting for downtown waterfront will start at 12 p.m. - Originally scheduled for 10 a.m., the meeting will recess and reconvene due to a personal matter - December 19, 2018

News Release - Second public meeting for the downtown waterfront area on Dec. 21 - December 17, 2018

News Release - Key Forum on waterfront plans set for Monday Night - November 24, 2018

News Release - Preparations for waterfront development moving forward - November 14, 2018

News Release - Council green lights next phase of Waterfront Development Project - August 21, 2018

City of Orillia News Release - December 1, 2017

City of Orillia News Release - March 6, 2018

Current Status

October 2018

On August 16, 2018 Council directed to staff to pre-designate and pre-zone 4.83 ha (12 acres) of land, referred to herein as the Waterfront Redevelopment Area, to facilitate the redevelopment of the lands for a range of residential and commercial uses. The intent of the site-specific Official Plan policies and Zoning By-law provisions is to implement the vision contained in the City’s Downtown Tomorrow Plan and the Orillia Port Area Public Realm Plan.


The City will hold a Public Meeting on these proposed Official Plan policies and Zoning By-law provisions for the Waterfront Redevelopment Area on Monday, November 26th at 5:30pm in the Council Chamber at the Orillia City Centre (50 Andrew Street South). Everyone is welcomed and encouraged to attend this Public Meeting. At this Public Meeting, members of the public will be able to address Council directly to share their opinions and ask questions. Written comments are encouraged to be submitted prior to the Public Meeting on November 26th at 5:30pm and are to be submitted to quoting File Nos. D09-199 and D14-877. If you have questions about the proposed Official Plan and Zoning By-law changes, please contact Jill Lewis at 705-329-7241 or

August 2018

Staff brought forward Report WWG-18-04 to Council Committee on August 13, 2018. This report provided a comprehensive update on the Waterfront Development Implementation Plan. On August 16, 2018, Council subsequently provided their unanimous support of the Waterfront Development Implementation Plan. 

Moving forward, the City will proceed to begin a Development Approval process to designate and rezone the lands in accordance with the Preferred Development Concept. The City will simultaneously prepare a Request for Proposal document for the sale of the subject lands, which staff anticipate releasing in the spring of 2019.

Staff will also bring forward capital budget requests for a Waterfront Park Design Plan and a Waterfront Area Traffic and Parking Analysis through the 2019 budget process.

February 2018

On February 21, 2018, the City’s Waterfront Working Group (WWG), consisting of four members of Council and City staff from various departments, provided their first implementation update to Council regarding the project. Implementation of project of this magnitude is complex and includes a variety of decisions points which may impact the project timeline and/or budget. The recommendation to recieve the report as information and allocate $30,000 for legal work for the project was adopted at the March 5, 2018 Council meeting.

Report WWG-01-18 included a timeline analysis and briefing notes on the following:

  • Lease and Tenant Matters
  • Environmental - Land
  • Environmental – Stormwater
  • Parking
  • Planning Approvals
  • Financial Incentives
  • Parkland
  • Hydro Relocation
  • Construction and Staging Plan


December 2017

At the Special Council Meeting on December 1, 2017, Council provided their support in principle for the Preferred Development Concept.

Council's support extended to general design principles such as low to medium density mixed use development, building height which is in keeping with the heights and density proposed in the Downtown Tomorrow Plan, live/work and/or commercial units along Mississaga Street East and potentially Centennial Drive, and waterfront facing residential development along Centennial Drive.

The Preferred Development Concept is a high-level plan for development. In order for Council to move forward, staff must first provide detailed reports on factors related to implementation of the plan (costs, development approvals, disposal process, timeline).

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

1.  How does this concept fit in with the Downtown Tomorrow Plan?

The Downtown Tomorrow Plan (2012) sets out a long-term vision to help guide the City's future infrastructure investments, and private-sector developers redevelopment decisions in a manner that would achieve the downtown revitalization goals of the Plan. The Preferred Development Scenario upholds this vision by setting out a master plan which includes the extension of Coldwater Street to Centennial Drive, extending the existing retail environment to the waterfront and increasing the capacity for people to live and work in the downtown core. The Preferred Development Scenario leverages the attractiveness of Orillia's Lake Couchiching waterfront, and presents a welcoming new face to visitors arriving at the Port of Orillia; improving the connections between the downtown and the waterfront. 

The Preferred Development Scenario was designed to assist Council in understanding what a development meeting the Downtown Tomorrow Plan could look like. Through the Request for Proposal (RFP) Process, the Waterfront Working Group will establish evaluation criteria by which to score proposals. Therefore proposals may not replicate the Preferred Development Scenario, but must still meet Council’s overall development principles.


2.  Why did the City purchase 70 Front Street North?

In 2016 the City purchased 70 Front Street North. The Downtown Tomorrow Plan (the City's long term vision for the downtown and waterfront) recommended the acquisition of strategic parcels in the waterfront area so that the City could facilitate future redevelopment of these sites. The purchase of 70 Front Street North also allowed the City to secure lands needed to extend Coldwater Street to Centennial Drive in order to improve the connections between the Lake Couchiching waterfront and the downtown.


3.  Why is part of the site proposed to be residential?

The Downtown Tomorrow Plan recommended that redevelopment in the "Downtown-at-the-Lake" precinct consist primarily of residential uses in order to increase the amount of people living, working and shopping in the downtown core. Having more people living in the downtown area, helps the City accommodate its projected growth needs through infill and intensification, while also ensuring that more people are available to work, shop  and dine in the downtown area. Together, these factors will ensure that the downtown is vibrant throughout the year.


4.  What will happen to the Metro grocery store?

Council recognizes the need for a grocery store within the City’s core. The Preferred Development Scenario contemplates the retention of the Metro grocery store in its current location, however, as with any real estate transaction, both parties (both current and future) would need to agree on mutually beneficial provisions for long term occupancy.   


5.  How much will it cost for the City to develop the lands?

While the City has completed an analysis for future development, the actual development will not be built by the City. The intention is for the City to prepare the infrastructure (public roads, sewers etc.) and a private developer to purchase and develop the property in a manner which aligns with Council’s development principles. Public information regarding projected revenues and the final sale price for the land will remain confidential throughout the disposal process, as is standard in municipal real estate transactions, to protect the integrity of property negotiations.


6.  What about parking?

When considering the redevelopment of 70 Front Street North and the adjacent rail bed, Council and staff will be looking to ensure that any parking requirements as a result of the new development are contained within the development lands.

Council recognizes that parking in the waterfront area is important to all residents. While parking does facilitate visitors and customers in the downtown core, parking lots themselves are very costly to the taxpayer to build and retain, and they provide little direct economic benefits. This means that it’s important for Council and staff to thoroughly evaluate parking needs, alternatives and solutions.

This evaluation will take place through three steps:

1. Once the winning proposal for the municipal lands has been selected the City will have a better understanding of what land uses are proposed on the lands, as well as the on-site parking plans.

2. Council will be presented with a budget request as part of the proposed 2019 Capital Budget to seek approval to undertake a Parking and Traffic Demand Management Study and a Waterfront Park Design Plan. Once the Waterfront Park Design Plan is complete, the City will understand what park amenities are planned.

3. Once we have a clear understanding of the parking requirements of the planned development and any proposed amenities of the waterfront parkland staff this will inform the Parking and Traffic Demand Management Study.


7.  Does the City require the residential units to be “affordable housing”?

The City will identify the objectives of the development within the Request for Proposals document. While these objectives have not yet been set, staff do not anticipate that affordable housing will be a requirement of the development.

Affordable housing is being addressed in other areas of the City, including the downtown area. The affordable housing target for the City of Orillia is to achieve 164 new affordable units by 2024. As of September 30, 2018, a total of 132 units have already been achieved, through means such as rent supplements, secondary suites, and home ownership down payment assistance.

Affordable housing in the City of Orillia is addressed at a County level, and is managed by the County of Simcoe’s Social Housing Department.


8.  Did Council consider enlarging the adjacent parkland?

Yes, the enlargement of the adjacent parkland was considered by the Waterfront Working Group and Council.

When considering this, Council members carefully evaluated various factors such as the cost of parkland, the return on investment of parkland (both in terms of quality of life and in tax assessment) and the current use of the land to be developed.

According to the 2017 BMA Study, the City of Orillia already contributes approximately 50% more than the average municipality on parkland (based on net costs per capita excluding amortization). Community members have significant access to waterfront lands through City parks (Couchiching Beach Park, Tudhope Park, Leacock Museum lands, Veteran’s Park, Port of Orillia) and three nearby Provincial Parks.

As such, in August of 2018, Council made the decision to retain the existing footprint of waterfront parklands (with a minor expansion to include French’s Stand) and proceed with development of 70 Front Street North and the adjacent rail bed. This design approach has been reflected in the Municipal Class Environmental Assessment and Detailed Design for the proposed Centennial Drive Realignment Project.


9.  Will Centennial Park or Couchiching Beach Park be reduced in size?

No, in fact Centennial Park will increase in size as it is proposed to realign to Centennial Drive to run behind (west of) French’s Stand.


10. How will the concept get developed and by whom?

The City intends to release a Request for Qualifications to identify a short-list of qualified developers. A Request for Proposals will follow, and all development proposals will be thoroughly vetted prior to the City selecting a proponent.


11. What heights are being considered through the OPA/ZBA on December 21, 2018?

Currently the Official Plan permits a maximum height of four to six storeys on the site.

The proposed Official Plan Amendment would establish policies that would permit a minimum height of four storeys on all of the Waterfront Redevelopment Lands.  The proposed policies will permit maximum heights that vary from four storeys to ten storeys on different development blocks.  The proposed Official Plan policies are proposed to be implemented through a site-specific Zoning By-law Amendment that would establish a minimum building height of two storeys or equivalent and maximum heights ranging from four storeys to six storeys.  A developer wishing to construct a building higher than six storeys would be required to apply to Council for a Zoning By-law Amendment.

Buildings in excess of three storeys are required to be “stepped back” from Coldwater Street and Centennial Drive on a 45-degree angular plane. The intent of this is to open up the viewscapes to the lake, reduce shadows and mitigate the appearance of the building size.


12. How can I share my feedback?

Significant community consultation has informed the development of the Downtown Tomorrow Plan, the Port of Orillia Area Public Realm Plan, and the Downtown Tomorrow Community Improvement Plan over the last six years. Staff anticipates that the subject lands will be pre-zoned in order to facilitate the form of development show in the Preferred Development Concept which is the culmination of all the previous public consultation. Going forward, the community may provide feedback through the Official Plan Amendment and Zoning By-law Amendment process. Community members are also encouraged to share their comments and feedback with members of Council and the Waterfront Working Group.


13. Who are the members of the Waterfront Working Group (WWG)?

As of November 2018, the Waterfront Working Group consists of Mayor Clarke, Councillor Cipolla, Councillor Emond and Councillor Lauer. The WWG is supported by staff from a range of City departments.


14. What are the next steps?

Please refer to the "Current Status" section of this project webpage for information on the current status and next steps.


15. How do I get more information?

Further information can be found on the project webpage at, or by contacting the Manager of Real Estate and Commercial Development at 705-325-4900 or


Waterfront Development Mailing List

Stay in the loop by signing up here to recieve updates on this project.

In the News

Making Connections - Novae Res Urbis, Wednesday, August 29, 2018

(Posted with permission of the publisher of NRU
Publishing Inc. Original article first appeared in Novae Res Urbis – GTHA
Edition, Vol. 21, No. 34, Wednesday, August 29, 2018)

Ambitious waterfront plans moving 'full steam ahead' - Orillia Matters, August 13, 2018

Orillia Council envisions new 'neighbourhood' at waterfront- Orillia Today, December 5, 2017

Orillia Plans to renovate Downtown - CTV News, December 5, 2017

Downtown Tomorrow Plan closer to reality - News Release, December 1, 2017

Orillia makes waterfront development a priority - News Release, February 13, 2017

Revitalizing Orillia's Downtown and Waterfront through Infrastructure Improvements - CTV News, February 2017


© City of Orillia, 50 Andrew Street South, Suite 300, Orillia, Ontario, L3V 7T5, Tel: (705) 325-1311, Fax: (705) 325-5178, Email:

Designed by eSolutionsGroup