Ontario Construction News staff writer
Work on Orillia’s Waterfront Redevelopment Project will impact two temporary municipal parking lots beginning in July.
As part of the redevelopment environmental work currently underway by FRAM Building Group (FRAM) at and around 70 Front St. N., two temporary parking lots will be decommissioned effective July 5.
“While the parking lots were always intended to be temporary until such a time that development occurred on the property, we understand residents and businesses will have grown accustomed to having them available. Orillia’s downtown is located closely to the waterfront and there are many lots within the downtown that remain available for public parking,” said Mayor Steve Clarke. “We encourage residents and visitors to utilize the alternative parking lots within the downtown or the waterfront lots to visit the businesses within the development area, or alternatively, take advantage of Orillia Transit as a cost effective and convenient alternative to driving.”
In 2018, Orillia Council approved creating a municipal parking lot, located on Mississaga Street East, and Municipal Parking Lot 12, located off Centennial Drive, as temporary pay-and-display public parking following the purchase of the 70 Front St. N. as the property was not being actively used at the time.
The property was sold to FRAM Building Group (FRAM) as part of the Waterfront Redevelopment Project earlier this year. As part of the sale, the city was able to lease the parking lots for municipal use until such as time that they were required by FRAM and the parking lots decommissioned in order to begin remediation work of the site.
A waterfront and downtown area traffic and parking study has taken place and is currently being reviewed by staff. The study will include recommendations related to parking for Council’s consideration, such as the number of parking lots, spaces and their locations, along with parking management strategies, such as pricing, timing and availability. It is anticipated that this study will be provided for Council’s consideration within the next few months.
The sale to FRAM is a major milestone in the redevelopment and revitalization of approximately 8.7 acres of strategic downtown waterfront land in Orillia to better connect the downtown and waterfront, bring new residents and job opportunities to the downtown and will contribute to the overall tax base and economic development of the city.
“Businesses and residents in the vicinity, and within our entire community, will benefit in the long-term from the revitalization and reanimation of the area, which will bring more vibrancy to our downtown core including new residents and customers to the area,” said Mayor Clarke.
All downtown areas will undergo some change over the next 20 years. The master development concept focuses on six neighbourhoods targeted or significant development.
Each o the key concepts comprise new buildings and “public realm” improvements that must follow guidelines addressing land use and urban designs – clarifying all aspects of building including building heights and streetscape characteristics.
According to the detailed plan, guidelines “will ensure a design-based approach” to future projects with the goal of }high-quality built environment and public realm in all areas of the downtown.
In some cases, amendments will be needed to the official plan and zoning bylaws.
FRAM will begin environmental remediation of the site commencing this summer. It is anticipated that the first phase of construction (starting with the residential block north of Neywash Street) will begin late in 2023. Redevelopment of the waterfront lands will coincide with the City’s infrastructure projects to realign Centennial Drive (which will begin later this summer) and the extension of Coldwater Street (which is scheduled to begin in 2023).
In 2012, the City of Orillia adopted the Downtown Tomorrow: Linking Orillia’s Core to the Water study (Downtown Tomorrow Plan), which identifies strategic initiatives to be pursued over the next 20 years. Downtowns are the heart of the community and are identified as an important feature to maintain and improve.
Today, more than 10 years after the adoption, many of the strategic initiatives have been achieved or are in progress. This includes the Waterfront Redevelopment Project, Centennial Drive Reconstruction, and the Downtown Tomorrow Community Improvement Plan.
As Orillia continues to implement the strategic initiatives, updates will be provided about their progress.