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People 'very excited' to be using Orillia Recreation Centre (4 photos)

'This facility is extremely impressive ... It’s really a place you could come to and spend a full day,' says resident who enjoyed pickleball, spin class and weight training

The new Orillia Recreation Centre (ORC) has now been open to the public — for pre-registered time slots only at the fitness centre, aquatics, and various sports programming — for over a week.

Seanne Goodfellow, the city's Recreation Policy and Permitting Supervisor, says approximately 1,500 users will have come through the facility by Nov. 14.

“We are off and running and everyone is very excited to be in the facility. They are grateful that it’s open and excited to see it,” she said.

“People are saying it’s a unique aspect to the city and provides a new opportunity for recreation.”

Due to COVID-19 protocols, ORC users must book a time slot for their desired activity 24 hours in advance and can only show up to their time slot at a maximum of 15 minutes before their appointment.

Users must wear a mask into the facility and are required to continue wearing a mask during some activities.

So far, Goodfellow says the ORC's protocols are keeping users safe.

“We are cleaning and sanitizing throughout the day and we have additional buffer times in between programs to sanitize shared equipment,” she said.

The ORC is a game changer for the facility's user groups such as the Orillia Channel Cats competitive swimming club.

Coach Meredith Thompson-Edwards says she is impressed with the ORC. However, it’s going to take some time before the organization can take advantage of the facility's full potential.

Currently, the COVID-19 pandemic is restricting the feeling of full access to the Channel Cats due to a phased-in swimming season that is seeing just over 60 participants within the organization.

At this point, the club's youngest members won’t even be in the registration part of their season until next week.

“When things are normal we will be able to host regionals here which can host 400 swimmers. Obviously it’s going to take a while to get to that point, but because of the electronic timing system, the video board and the nice seating area, it will bring in clubs who want to come and race in our pool,” Thompson-Edwards said.

While the full potential of the ORC is still in the far future for local swimmers, Thompson-Edwards says those who have been in the new pool have been blown away with its size and calibre.

“They love it, and they are pretty excited to be here because they’ve been out of action, like everyone else, since March,” she said.

Orillia Channel Cats gold level swimmer Owen McCool says he likes the ORC’s bright video board and the large diving board, but the things he’s been most impressed with are the things that go beyond the eye.

“It’s a lot easier to breathe in here than the old pool we swam in at the YMCA; this one has much better ventilation,” McCool said.

“I also like the outside lighting that comes in here. It’s much brighter than the YMCA where we had just one window.”

McCool also says he has been comfortable participating in programing at the ORC which, in large part, is attributed to the ORC's COVID-19 protocols.

“The city did a good job putting up dividers and directional stickers. We are sticking to only four people per double lane, so I feel really safe coming here to practise,” he said.

Another Orillia resident who has been enjoying the ORC is Michelle Cain, who has been participating in pickleball, weight training, and spinning classes.  

“This facility is extremely impressive and a gift to Orillia residents. It’s really a place you could come to and spend a full day,” Cain said.

“It’s a phenomenal outlet to stay in shape and meet new people in the community, with or without COVID. It’s so nice to come in and have a welcoming group to come to.”

Like McCool, Cain also gives kudos to city officials for keeping ORC users safe during the pandemic.  

“The signage is good, sanitizer is available, the staff is good at holding people accountable, and, for the most part, everyone is complying. I feel very comfortable coming here,” she said.

Although Cain feels safe during her visits at the ORC, she feels city officials could be a little more lenient with the rules.

“Some of the rules still need to be worked out. The facility will not be at full capacity or even completely empty, but yet we can’t stay and play after our time slot. It doesn’t make sense that we need to wait 24 hours before we can request another time to come in,” Cain said.

“I get the rules that are in place, but I question if they are COVID rules or if they are putting people off to giving them full access and enjoyment.”

Those interested in registering for a time slot to participate in activities at the ORC can find more information here.


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Tyler Evans

About the Author: Tyler Evans

Tyler Evans got his start in the news business when he was just 15-years-old and now serves as a video producer and reporter with OrilliaMatters
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