Council Preview

By John Swartz

Orillia council meets Monday, March 4 at 2 p.m. and will almost immediately go into a closed session because, except for the public forum, there are no deputations or presentations on the agenda.

In the closed session they have two items, one if to hear some legal opinion about an issue that is also on the committee agenda; the developers of 625 Atherley Road have appealed December’s council decision to delay approval of  a condo development.

They will also make some appointments to various boards and committees.

When they go public, a follow up report from an item on the February meeting of council is back. A working group was formed (councillors Whitney Smith, Ralph Cipolla, Jeff Czetwerzuk and Janet-Lynne Durnford) to report back on locations for temporary housing as outlined in the February report.

Council agreed to partner with the County of Simcoe for a program called Rapid Re-Housing, which essentially is to install pre-made multiple housing units similar to school portables. Council also committed $100,000 to the plan and waived a number of steps and fees developers would normally have to deal with.

Temporary housing example

The sites staff selected from City owned property in order of preference are:

Morningstar Park, this is located at Mississaga Street West and the Bypass. An issue moving ahead is the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario may not agree since some of the park is on land they control.

Murray Street Park, is located on Murray at Second Street. Housing abuts this park on all sides. The among reasons stated that are drawbacks are a lack of parking for servicing and some trees would need to be cut down.

Frontier Park, is located on Fourth Street between Frontier and Lahay. Location preference criteria listed flat land as a factor for choosing a site, and this one is not flat. Quite a few trees would have to be cut down.

The working group investigated 12 other choices and selected 175 West Street South and 66 Peter Street South as preferred locations.

The West Street site is where the hydro substation next to the Orillia Recreation Centre used to be. The Peter Street site is where the police station was. The former appears to have the least amount of issues, other than a record of site condition is needed for the quality of the land on which transformers were located.

The Peter street site will eventually be part of a transit hub and possibly a housing development.

Both properties are owned by the City.

More Reports

Next, as part of council’s go ahead to renovate Brian Orser Arena at a cost of $12 million, they also created a working group (Mayor McIssac, councillors Cipolla, Czetwerzuk and Luke Leatherdale) to report on a phase 2 of development at the Orillia Recreation Centre.

The report recommends staff add to the 2025 budget a cost estimate to add two ice surfaces (one with up to 1,000 seats) and a pickleball court. It also recommends changing the exploratory working group to a working group to oversee design (minus Mayor McIsaac as a member). The project would also be added to the City’s 10-year capital plan.

Councillors Durnford, Leatherdale and Jay Fallis attended the Rural Ontario Municipal Association conference in January and their report is next on the agenda. The councillors attended a range of sessions, including several about housing and homelessnes, insurance and liabilities, Truth and Reconcilliation, food production, and one about changes to the Drainage Act, which CNR and CPR have taken to mean they can, and have billed municipalities for drainage work where previously cost were shared 50/50.

The Waste Management Advisory Committee has a report recommending council approve having a City-wide garage sale on June 15.  This would also tie into the City’s existing Treasure Hunt program in which people can put large items out to the curb for any takers. They say this would help reduce use of the landfill and could be a fundraiser for the affordable housing reserve, though the report does not say how the latter would be accomplished.

A group of parents and school officials has previously reported to council about issues creating problems for students walking to Orchard Park Public School. This new report from staff is recommending council authorize a submission to the 2025 budget for a pedestrian crossover on Park Street near Calverley, and establishing a community safety zone for the length of Calverley.

Pedestrian Crossover Example

The recommendation for a crossover which would only be activated by those wanting to cross the road instead of traffic lights. The location would also serve students at Orillia Secondary School and Samuel-De-Champlain School. A community safety zone will come with a 40kph speed limit and higher fines. Staff say an estimate for the crossover and community safety zone is $65,000 and would be in the 2025 budget request.

Staff also said a request for a bike lane on Park Street is already part of an approved active transportation plan.

Staff did not recommend going ahead with other proposals for sidewalks on Fittons Road and  South Street until other road work is scheduled to occur. Other proposals to do snow clearing on paths in Carmichael Park were not recommended because of equipment availability and land conditions for upgrading trails.

Official Plan Update

Staff from Development Services and Engineering have an update on the Official Plan review currently underway.

Consultants, WSP, have already held a number of meetings with various groups including a public meeting last November, and online opportunities for comment.

An Official Plan is not as detailed as a zoning by-law, but still is intended to guide how and where development occurs and how those things connect to other parts of the City.

Housing types were part of the November discussion with many people agreeing building up is preferable to building too many single family houses. Then the question becomes where to build up. The accompanying map shows where attendees thought were acceptable for high rise development.

High Rise Locations

Other issues raised were quality of life, the ability to get around, and planning for a greener community.

At the public meeting concern was expressed about the lack of young people attending, so the consultants scheduled two session with high school students and one with Lakehead students.

It’s interesting student input shows they are concerned about having more parks and planting trees, better public transit, protecting the heritage aspects of downtown buildings, slower traffic, more recreation facilities and more diversity of housing types among other things.

Of the things they liked about Orillia they listed the market, downtown, both recreation facilities, the Mariposa Folk Festival, and things are easy to access. They also indicated they’ve had enough of townhouses, modern housing design and converting single family houses into multi-family units. They also would like to have more neighbourhood corner stores.

The report is 136 pages and council is being asked to accept the framing generated from the input received and authorize moving on to more detailed work. There will be more opportunities for public input.

Atherley Road

The public report relating to a development proposed for 625 Atherley Road is next on the agenda. In December council deferred approval and asked the developer, Coland Developments Corp. to come back with consideration for a lower building height and lower density of housing. They also wanted to have vehicle access from Driftwood Road restricted to emergency and service vehicles instead of general access as proposed. Council also wants another public meeting.

The developers initiated an Ontario Land Tribunal appeal in January and the City responded the first week of February. The developer contends the City did not make a decision inside of provincial timelines. The closed session meeting presented the options available to council.

This report is on the agenda for council to receive and how it will proceed (by March 5). Staff estimates it will cost $100,000 to litigate.


Councillor Leatherdale has one enquiry motion to have staff report on the cost of replacing existing No Exit signs on Westmount Drive South and Rose Avenue with larger ones.

There are no other motions on the agenda.

The meeting is open to the public to attend or you can watch live on Youtube.

(Photos by Swartz – SUNonline/Orillia; Images Supplied)


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