Orillia’s Waterfront Redevelopment Project

If you have taken a drive down Coldwater Rd. lately, you probably noticed that the Metro plaza is looking quite different. What used to be a strip-mall housing small shops and eateries has now been torn down to rubble as part of Orillia’s Waterfront Redevelopment Project. With views of the Lake Couchiching waterfront now visible from Front St., it is just the beginning of a lengthy construction process to recreate Orillia’s Downtown Waterfront into a trendy hub of small businesses, public transit, and housing. 

This project has been in the works for a decade, dating back to 2012 when the idea was first proposed in Orillia’s Downtown Tomorrow Community Improvement plan. This plan contained dozens of recommendations on ways the city could improve its downtown core that fell under these guidelines:

  • Accessible and Inviting
  • Vibrant and Creative
  • Healthy and Liveable
  • Green and Beautiful

The Waterfront Redevelopment Project was one of the major projects proposed by the Downtown Tomorrow plan and was put officially into works in 2016 when the city purchased the 70 Front Street plaza (excluding Metro). Since then there have been extensive surveys undertaken by the city such as environmental and legal due diligence to ensure the safety and prosperity that this project will have for those working and living in the community. This project will be one of the city’s largest projects done to date, following the Matchedash Lofts & Fresh Towns Housing Development. See the timeline proposal below.

*This timeline has not yet been updated by the City of Orillia to reflect the most recent developments.

The vision of this project is grand and truly will transform our downtown waterfront as we know it today. The city has chosen FRAM Building Group as the preferred proponent for this project, and upon viewing their renderings, we can understand why!

The vision for Orillia’s waterfront will comprise of 3 distinct residential building phases – The 8-storey Residential + Retail Building, Waterfront Townhomes, and the Civic Square. There are 62 proposed townhomes and 89 building suites with additional retail space on the main floor. The civic square will reside at the base of Mississaga Street, opening up views of the water from Downtown. The ultimate goal of this project is to open up the area’s walkability and mobility for all pedestrians. With increased public transit options and small business opportunities, the project has been predicted to bring in new residents, new jobs/businesses, and vibrancy to our downtown core.

At the moment, the project is in full force with demolition currently underway on the Metro plaza lot. Removal of debris will be ongoing and local residents can expect to see lots of construction this summer on Centennial Drive. It may not be the cleanest of summers for our waterfront park, but the results will be well worth it! We are looking forward to seeing all the changes taking place over the next few years.