The Orillia Recreation Centre Grand Opening

By John Swartz

The pandemic and its several stay at home periods delayed the official opening of the Orillia Recreation Centre. People have been using the facility since the fall of 2020. Friday afternoon it happened, the ribbon was cut, and hundreds enjoyed free use of the facilities.

During opening remarks, the city’s manager of recreation services, Marcia Russell, said all activities offered at the rec centre have an overall booking rate of more than 90% capacity.

The afternoon included many inflatable activities in the gym and on the water in the pool, which the kids seemed to enjoy. Leadbetter’s Foods supplied burgers and hotdogs and the Orillia Youth Centre organized musicians who played for the crowd.

Building a rec center, with a pool as the centerpiece has been a goal of many in the community for over three decades. The project hit many obstacles during that time, including opposition to spending the original budget of $54 million, but the community stuck to their dream. The tide turned in favour of getting the job done in the spring of 2020 when a rally by the community opposing a scaled down version in a cramped location turned into electing a council committed to building the center.

The building houses three pools, a gymnasium with seating, a fitness and meeting rooms and a track. The pandemic showed the value to the community with the timing of it being available for use during the pandemic. With schools closed, youth had a place where they could keep up and develop their athletic skills – and it allowed them to be with their friends.

(Photos and video by Swartz – SUNonline/Orillia)


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