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Council given update on rec centre; opening date still unclear

Facility was originally slated to open in the summer of 2018; Pandemic has 'had a negative impact on manpower,' offiicials say
2020-03-25 pandemic orillia recreation centre
Work continues inside the Orillia Recreation Centre on West Street. The $55.7-million facility was supposed to be open more than two years ago. Dave Dawson/OrilliaMatters

The $48-million tender for the Orillia Recreation Centre was awarded in August of 2016.

It was predicted then that the long-anticipated facility - featuring an aquatic centre (lap pool, leisure pool, and therapy pool), gymnasiums, multi-purpose rooms, a walking/jogging track, pre-school room, office space and a fitness centre - would open in the summer of 2018. The price tag was about $50.6 million.

It was then delayed for a variety of reasons and a June, 2019 opening was then predicted by civic officials.

Then, it was delayed again due to weather, issues related to the trades and complications attributed to the site.

But officials gave assurances that it would be open in time for the Ontario Winter Games which kicked off Feb. 27. The facility was a drawing card used by the city to attract the event; it was to host swimming and other events.

When it became clear that wasn’t going to happen, the Games Organizing Committee had to move events originally planned for the new West Street South building out of town. 

It was a frustrating moment in a process that has had its share of frustrations.

Since the project began almost four years ago, city council has increased - on three different occasions - the contingency fund dedicated to unforeseen expenses.

Just last week, that orginal $2-million fund was increased by a further $650,000 to about $4.5 million. The overall price tag for the facility has now escalated to $55.7 million.

The most recent stumbling block is the pandemic and city officials say that, too, has “had a negative impact on manpower.”

In a memo to city councillors late Friday, staff provided an update on the project - but there remains no official opening date. Of course, right now, all such facilities are closed any way.

According to the memo, tiling of the pool walls is complete and glass for the viewing area of the north pool has been installed.

The pool timing clock has been installed with final wiring, including starting blocks, to be completed this week. 

Pool fixtures such as diving boards, entry ladders, lifeguard chairs and entry railings have been installed.  

Installation of ceiling tile in the change rooms is about half finished, while most countertops, faucets, hand dryers and toilets have been installed in both the main and lower-level changerooms and washrooms. 

Installation of stall dividers in the washrooms has not yet started. 

However, all changeroom benches have been installed including the wood topping.  

The floor of the gymnasium is being prepared for the wood flooring; that began Friday.

The installation of the wooden tops on all bleacher benches is almost finished as is the installation of phenolic panels around the second-floor running track. The rubberized track surface will begin being installed the week of May 18.

The rubberized flooring in the fitness area is complete. 

All millwork is nearing completion including the main reception on the entry level and the reception counter in the fitness area. 

Interior glass installation is nearing completion. 

The special steel accent panel installation is nearing completion on the walls in the corridors on all floors. 

The central feature stairway has been installed and is awaiting finishing details. Interior painting continues while interior doors have been installed and are being painted. 

The multi-function rooms are about 80% complete.

Life safety systems are nearing completion.

In “the next few weeks”, telephone and data cable installation will be complete along with all lighting and electrical circuitry.

The gymnasium plywood and wood floor installation will also begin in the new few weeks.

Outside, final landscaping and site seeding will begin by the end of May and final asphalt for the parking lot will be completed. 

It’s expected the running track surface membrane installation will also have commenced within the next few weeks.

Also in the next few weeks:

  • Pavers at the main entrance will be completed;
  • All interior and exterior doors will be painted and hardware will have been installed;
  • Ceiling tile installation in various areas will be complete;
  • Railing installation at the west gym viewing area will be complete;
  • Phenolic panel installation will be complete;
  • Main level concrete floor final pour will be complete;
  • All interior glass will have been installed;
  • Millwork will be complete in reception areas and cabinets in the Sport Hall of Fame will be installed;
  • The front entrance doors will be installed;
  • Interior building signage installation will be complete; and
  • Commissioning of various building mechanical and pool mechanical systems will have commenced.



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Dave Dawson

About the Author: Dave Dawson

Dave Dawson is community editor of
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