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Two 8-storey apartment buildings likely on horizon for Orillia

Developers will be seeking numerous zoning amendments and public meetings will be held in the near future, city planners say

There are plans — by a pair of developers — to build two eight-storey apartment buildings in Orillia that would, combined, create 473 residential units in the city.

The applications for the two new apartment buildings are now complete, city staff say.

Developers Auroville Ltd. and Magma Development are seeking numerous zoning amendments to permit the planned apartment buildings on Coldwater Road and Barrie Road, respectively.

The first, located at 233, 249, and 261 Coldwater Rd., includes plans for 225 units and 265 parking spaces on a presently empty lot of land.

The second, spanning six properties on Barrie Road, includes 248 units and 188 parking spaces. Currently, that site is home to four single detached dwellings, a two-unit building, and three existing residential buildings with “at least” six residential units, city planners told OrilliaMatters.

Neither of the proposed buildings will include "affordable housing" units.

"(Developers) did confirm that it's not going to be affordable housing … and they've also confirmed to me that they're interested in going through an exemption process for a condominium so they would be 'sold' units as opposed to 'rented' units,” said the city's senior planner, Jill Lewis, referencing the Coldwater Road application.

“We are looking to facilitate all housing types. These two developments just in themselves represent a substantial number of potential new units,” added senior planner Jeff Duggan. “It's a built form we haven't seen for some time so these are much less land intensive but also provide a much greater number of potential residential units.” 

Both developers are seeking zoning amendments to allow for their eight-storey height and to accommodate reduced parking, among other requests.

Typically, developments are required to provide 1.6 parking spaces per unit, Duggan said, but developers for the Coldwater Road project have requested 1.2 spaces per unit due, in part, to space constraints on the site.

For the Barrie Road application, Lewis noted the proposed building is a single lot away from being in the downtown area, where parking requirements are considerably lower.

“They're looking for a 50 per cent parking reduction, and they're right beside the downtown area,” she said. “If they were one lot over, they would already meet the parking requirements (for) the downtown.”

In terms of the proposed height amendments for the apartments, Lewis explained the city’s Official Plan allows for eight-storey buildings in the city’s intensification area, where both planned projects would be built. 

“The Official Plan allows eight storeys, but when we wrote the Zoning Bylaw we didn't pre-zone for the height of eight storeys,” she said. “We took more of a cautious approach so that neighbours ... would be notified when there was a height change.”

Duggan believes there will be minimal visual impact of the building proposed for Coldwater Road, and noted the issue of height is something the city “wrestles with” in each application.

“The Coldwater Road case, by my initial senses, the impact would be quite negligible,” Duggan said. “Most residents would be seeing three storeys and a very small portion of the building, not the full wall … it’s about 20 metres in width, so it's actually a very minimal visual impact.”

The next steps for both applications, Lewis said, is for both developers to hold virtual open houses on their proposed projects.

“The date hasn't been arranged yet, but I suspect (they will be in) approximately a month's time,” Lewis said. “After the applicant’s open house is held and the staff comments have been addressed, then we would look to proceed to a statutory public meeting of council where they would need to make a decision, and then there would be a 20-day appeal period where people could appeal the decision to the Ontario Land Tribunal.”

In terms of the existing residences on Barrie Road, Lewis said she could not comment on what will happen as they do not fall under the planning department’s land use regulated processes, but she did say it could take years for the developer to get approval.

“They are subject to a record of site condition because there (are) commercial units on the property, so that sometimes can take months to years to get ministry approval before they could get a building permit, so I don't exactly know the timeline for construction,” she said.

Residents interested in attending the virtual open houses may email Jill Lewis at

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Greg McGrath-Goudie

About the Author: Greg McGrath-Goudie

Greg has been with Village Media since 2021, where he has worked as an LJI reporter for CollingwoodToday, and now as a city hall/general assignment reporter for OrilliaMatters
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