Orillia affordable housing hub plan unveiled

Ontario Construction News staff writer

The County of Simcoe showcased its new social and affordable housing hub project in Orillia at two virtual public information sessions last week.

The $80-million project is planned for the former Orillia District Collegiate and Vocational Institute (OCDVI) site on West Street North purchased by the county.

The County is taking a ‘shovel ready’ approach, working to have plans, studies and approvals prepared in order to be in an optimal position to receive potential additional funding opportunities​

Construction is anticipated to start in late spring or early summer of 2021​ and wrap up in spring 2023.

However, maintenance and facilities project manager Brad Spiewak told council to expect delays.

“It all depends on how quick in the summer we can get going. I think in reality every job we have done we seem to lose two to four months… so that’s where I think early or late fall of ’23 is what we could expect.”

A multi-use development with 130 mixed affordable residential units will include space for community services located on the ground floor including Ontario Works, Children and Community Services, and Social Housing offices.

Social services are key components of the campus-style development with an on-site service hub setting for partnership opportunities with community agencies working with residents and the surrounding community.

The proposed building inclusive of affordable housing and commercial/office space is 216,000 sq. ft. and the commercial/office space footprint is approximately 60,000 sq. ft. and cost is estimated at $79 million.

Environmental features including electric vehicle charging stations, green roof, high building envelope standards, low solar heat gain windows, efficient mechanical and electrical systems, dark recovery systems, dark sky compliant lighting, and increased tree planting are included in the design.

“We set a high standard of energy and environmental sustainability. We want to reduce not only our environmental footprint but also those utility bills that are the tenants’ cost,” Spiewak said.

County and funding partners have invested in significant affordable housing builds in the last two years:

  • Collingwood (2018/2019): $40 million – includes 147 units and approximately 12,000 sq. ft of commercial / office space
  • Wasaga Beach (2019/2020): $27 million – includes 99 units and no commercial/office space
  • Victoria Harbour (under development): $13.5 million – includes 41 units and no commercial/office space

“This is an extremely important initiative to address urgent affordable housing needs in the Orillia area, as well as to bring community services together under a multi-generational hub model to serve the community,” Zwiers said.