By John Swartz
The port facilities are operated by the chamber of commerce and executive director, Allan Lafontaine, is also the official harbourmaster of the port. He believes this year will be a return to pre-pandemic levels of activity.
“I’m very optimistic. If you think about the price of gas, it’s gone up, but it’s not going to stop boaters who haven’t boated for two years, so they’ve got some gas money in their bank account,” Lafontaine said.
He said there are 1 million boats using the Trent Severn Waterway each year and in 2019 there were 5,900 boat slip rentals a the Port of Orillia, which he thinks will be great if that many slip rentals happen this year.
“I think they’ll look at Orillia as a value place because they can come here, they can enjoy our patios so that’s going to be attractive for them,” he said. “Our phones have been busy. We’re almost three quarters of our Christmas in June sold out.”
Christmas In June is just one of many events the chamber organizes at the port. June 1- to 12 the Spring Boat, Cottage and Green Technology Show returns.
“We’re having Halloween in July (23). It’s a brand new event. The Township of Severn, Coldwater is going to come down and promote their Witches Walk on that weekend,” Lafontaine said. August 5 to 7 is the annual Waterfront Festival (with the annual Cardboard Boat Race), and the
Port of Orillia Pirate Party is returning Labour Day Weekend.
“We had a quite Pirate Party last year. This year we’re coming back. We’ve got more boats, more gun powder and we’ve got some great music entertainment,” he said.
Mayor Steve Clarke is also optimistic and inquires at City Hall about tourism indicate summer will be good.
“I’m sensing that the attitude is a little bit different this year for the port and related businesses and events in the City,” Clarke said. “Whether or not we’ll be back to pre-pandemic I don’t know but I think it will be darn close.”
Reconstruction of Centennial Drive starts soon and Lafontaine thinks it won’t be too much of problem for boaters to visit the downtown.
“There’ll be access over by the legion. People can still get in. Having one year of advancement, or progress is really in all our best interests.”
(Photos by Swartz – SUNonline/Orillia) Main: Chamber of Commerce executive director Allan Lafontaine at the Port of Orillia.