Preparing Orillia’s waterfront for development

Setting the stage for downtown waterfront development in the City of Orillia is in full-swing.

The process includes pre-designating and pre-zoning the 9.75 acres of city-owned waterfront lands at the Metro plaza and former rail lands beside Centennial Drive to allow for a range of residential and commercial uses. It’s part of council’s plan to redevelop the waterfront and improve the connections between the waterfront and downtown as envisioned in Orillia’s Downtown Tomorrow Plan.

“Council continues to move ahead with its vision of redeveloping and improving the downtown waterfront area all while maintaining our beautiful waterfront parks and the unique character that is Orillia,” said Mayor Steve Clarke. “Orillia has a waterfront that is the envy of many and we want to provide the ability for private developers to better connect that asset with the downtown core.”

The city has been working since 2012 to implement the plan’s long-term vision. To help make it happen, the city bought the Metro plaza in 2016 with the objective of extending Coldwater Street to connect to Centennial Drive, to facilitate development and extend the retail experience along the waterfront, as well as constructing a public square at the foot of Mississaga Street and Centennial Drive.

“The Waterfront Working Group has been actively working to put a plan in place that will pave the way for transformative redevelopment of the city’s waterfront that focuses on new public space and includes a mix of residential and commercial uses,” said Coun. Tim Lauer, Waterfront Working Group chair. The group was established in 2016 and includes four members of council.

“Our engineering staff are planning the future realignment of Centennial Drive and the relocation of the existing sanitary trunk sewer to Front Street,” said Ian Sugden, development services and engineering director. “The reconstruction of Front Street between Neywash Street and Queen Street is planned to begin in 2019. The reconstruction will commence at the south end (Queen Street), and will occur over a two-year timeframe. The reconstruction and realignment of Centennial Drive will, in part, enlarge Couchiching Beach Park by moving a part of Centennial Drive to a location west of French’s Stand, and the construction is planned for 2022 and 2023.”

“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,” said Laura Thompson, real estate and commercial development manager. “It is anticipated the city will release the RFP in the spring of 2019.”

The public meeting on the proposed Official Plan policies and zoning bylaw provisions for the Waterfront Redevelopment Area will be held at 5:30 p.m. on Nov. 26 at the Orillia City Centre council chambers.

Questions about the proposed Official Plan and zoning bylaw changes, should be directed to Jill Lewis, senior planner, at 705-329-7241 or [email protected]. For general questions about the city’s plans for the waterfront development, contact Laura Thompson at 705-325-5818 or visit

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