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County's decision to purchase ODCVI property is 'absolutely great news'

Group that had plans for apartments for vulnerable seniors applaud move; County purchased ODCVI for $4 million
2018-03-15 ODCVI
The county has purchased Orillia District Collegiate and Vocational Institute and have plans to create a 'regional services hub' on the property.

A group that had hoped to acquire the former Orillia District Collegiate and Vocational Institute (ODCVI) property for an apartment complex and social services hub for local vulnerable seniors is applauding a decision by the County of Simcoe to purchase the property.

The decision “has so many positive implications for Orillia and the surrounding area,” said Cam Davidson of the Orillia Community Hub group that had hoped to acquire the property. “This is absolutely great news in the eyes of the Orillia Community Hub group.”

The county purchased the property for $4 million from the Simcoe County District School Board. According to its press release, it will create a “regional services hub” on the property.

While it’s unclear what exactly the regional services hub might look like, Davidson hopes seniors will be accommodated.

“The press release indicates to us that they will be focusing on many areas including affordable housing, long-term care, children's services and other community service needs, including a positive aging framework,” said Davidson. “They are looking at a lot of things.”

Davidson said the group is also glad to hear the county plans several public consultations in 2019 to garner input from the community.

“The indication is that they intend to fully consult the Orillia Community Hub as a key stakeholder in this process,” he said. “Our group is very much looking forward to working in partnership with the county, the city, other interested partners and the citizens of Orillia and surrounding area.”

Davidson said this process “is a very wise one. (It) will give everyone a chance to voice their opinions and visions that they have regarding this property.”

He said the project “has the potential to make a huge difference to the quality of life for many people in our community, in particular our senior population.”

However, he conceded there is much work ahead.

“This project will take a lot of work and cooperation between many organizations and individuals,” noted Davidson. “This is not a short-term proposition. In my opinion, this is going to be a model for the Province of Ontario … it’s important to take the time necessary to get it right.”

Davidson and his group, who essentially founded and operate the successful Hillcrest Lodge, have been “working diligently for nearly four years to put forward the idea of a hub model with units for vulnerable seniors as well as other many needed social services.”

He said the group had already discussed potential partnerships with many health, social service and professional groups who have indicated a strong interest in participating in such a model.

“We are confident these ideas and suggestions will be seriously considered and thoroughly explored in 2019,” Davidson said.

The county announced they had purchased the former high school property on West Street late last week.

According to a press release, the aged buildings on the property will be demolished immediately.

Construction timelines, building design and services to be offered on the site will be determined through community needs and after public input is received through open houses in 2019.

The county and the school board have made arrangements to protect the existing student memorial arboretum on the property and the county will incorporate this area into future designs.

The county is also working closely Orillia officials to complete the permit processes and future planning.


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Dave Dawson

About the Author: Dave Dawson

Dave Dawson is community editor of
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