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Second public meeting about downtown waterfront area set for Friday

Meeting deals with specific proposed amendments that will allow city to solicit proposals from developers
70 Front St N lands map
Supplied map

The City of Orillia is holding a second public meeting on Friday, Dec. 21 at 10 a.m. regarding proposed changes to the City’s Official Plan and Zoning By-law that will facilitate the future redevelopment of the downtown waterfront area.

This meeting comes on the heels of the Nov. 26 public meeting on the same matter and there is no new information being presented to the 2018-2022 term of Council. The previous Council voted to hold a second public meeting so that the current term of Council could hear and adjudicate on the matter.

“Council is committed to moving the vision for the downtown waterfront area forward and it is our goal to ensure that development in this area matches and even enhances the character of Orillia that differentiates us from other communities. After all, this is the reason we purchased the Metro plaza property in the first place,” said Mayor Steve Clarke.

“Time is of the essence on this project as the market continues to fluctuate, so in order to keep the momentum going, Council is holding this second public meeting as soon as possible.”   

The proposed Zoning By-law and Official Plan amendments, which recommend pre-designating and pre-zoning the 9.75 acres of City-owned lands at the Metro plaza and former rail lands beside Centennial Drive to allow for a range of residential and/or commercial uses, is only one step in the overall development project.

The City is also working on documents related to the Request for Proposal (RFP) process, which will allow the City to solicit proposals from the development community that align with Council’s vision for the site. It isn’t until the RFP process is complete that the overall development plan for the area will come into view.

“The Dec. 21 public meeting only deals with the specific proposed amendments to the City’s Zoning By-Law and Official Plan that allow for Council’s preferred development concept to be possible,” said Coun. Tim Lauer, Chair of the Waterfront Working Group. “By hearing the public’s feedback on these amendments and going through the RFP process, the City of Orillia is shaping and controlling the future development of a catalytic property in our downtown core.”

Public consultation on the future of the downtown waterfront area has been ongoing through a variety of projects, and dates back to the Downtown Tomorrow Plan in 2012 when the vision of better connecting the downtown to the waterfront was established.

Elements of the overall vision for the area already approved by Council include the reconstruction and realignment of Centennial Drive, which will in part enlarge Couchiching Beach Park by moving a part of Centennial Drive to a location west of French’s Stand in 2022/2023.

For those who are unable to attend the Dec. 21 public meeting, input can be provided in writing to by Thursday, Dec. 20, 2018, at 12 p.m. (noon). Verbal submission can be made in person by attending the public planning meeting.