July 25, 2012
Urban Strategies report recommends new City Hall, post-secondary education campus in Orillia, Ontario
A draft report recently presented to City Council in Orillia, Ontario recommends the city work with Lakehead University, Georgian College and the Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital to start the process of constructing a new shared facility, and to consider eliminating development charges on multi-unit houses downtown.
The report, drafted by Urban Strategies Inc., was presented to City Council July 17. It includes a wide range of recommendations to help redevelop the core of the city and the Lake Couchiching waterfront over the next 20 years.
It notes that the Tudhope Factory houses City Hall, the downtown facility of Lakehead University and apartments. Barrie-based Georgian College has its Orillia campus southwest of the downtown area, on Memorial Avenue east of Highway 11, while the local campus of Lakehead University is on the western edge of the city, at Highway 11 and Old Barrie Road.
“Based on the interest by Lakehead University and Georgian College to locate new academic programs Downtown, or expand existing Lakehead programs, the City should work with the two institutions and the (Soldiers' Memorial Hospital) to identify potential locations for a shared academic facility," the report states. "The most feasible option likely is an existing vacant or under-utilized building close to the Tudhope Building."
The report also recommends that the City of Orillia, located about 140 kilometres north of Toronto, plan a new City Hall.
To revitalize the waterfront, the report recommends the city extend Centennial Drive south, possibly all the way to Forest Avenue.
A new waterfront neighbourhood between Veterans' Memorial Park and Pumpkin Bay would add "significantly more residents to downtown," the report states.
The city intends to seek comments to refine the draft further prior to another special meeting August 8, according to a staff memo attached to the report.
The draft of the Orillia downtown and revitalization report is available as a 17-MB PDF file on the City of Orillia website .
To facilitate development along the waterfront, the report recommends the city reduce or eliminate development charges on new multiple-unit housing downtown.
“Following consultation with the development community, the City should consider this incentive on a one-year or two-year trial basis,” the report states, adding the city should consider hiring a full-time downtown development manager.
To service and attract development, the city could relocate the trunk sewer and overhead hydro lines between the former rail lines, according to the report.
Other recommendations include:
•Require mixed-use development along Mississauga Street;
•Discourage commercial uses that generate low pedestrian traffic, such as professional offices, on the ground floor of buildings on Mississauga Street near the waterfront;
•Encourage, through application fee waivers, grants or loans, renovation of the upper floors of shops along Mississauga Street into residential, office, studio or hotel space;
•Encourage Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital to go ahead with a plan to move ambulatory services to a separate building, and to reduce parking demand;
•Discourage and restrict the demolition of houses to create additional parking lots near the hospital;
•Prepare a secondary plan to redevelop former industrial and commercial lands in the south core, south of Elgin Street;
•Require that buildings fronting Centennial Drive be a minimum of three storeys and a maximum of six storeys, with setbacks allowing for restaurant patios;
•Have a civic open space at the intersection of Mississauga Street and Centennial Drive, with a new, longer pier extending east from the square on to the lake, with “potentially a permanent building for vendors.”
At press time, the drft of the Orillia downtown and revitalization report was available on the City of Orillia website at www.orillia.ca.
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