Construction underway at Port of Orillia
MEHREEN SHAHID/THE PACKET & TIMES Kent Guptill, director of facilities and special projects, pictured at the Port of Orillia building site Friday talked about the progress of the construction, which kicked off earlier this month and will likely be complete for public use by May.
Officials slipped into the Port of Orillia Friday to mark the start of construction on the new Orillia Waterfront Centre.
"This building will replace the facility that was there before, which was just showers and registration," said Kent Guptill, the city's director of facilities and special projects. "We've added a wonderful community room, which has glass on all three sides, and you can see the lake. It can be used by the community for functions of all types all year round."
Boaters and residents could be enjoying facilities at a new building by next May.
The previous building, destroyed by a fire deemed to be arson in Dec. 2014, was 2,800 square feet as compared to the almost 5,000 square feet of the new building. It served mainly as a seasonal building for boaters.
The new building is being built by Bradanick Construction Service of Orillia at a cost of $1.9 million, while the total cost of the project is $2.3 million.
"It's a great privilege to be able to work in our own city on a project that has such an impact for visitors, tourists and the downtown development and businesses," said Jim Storey, general manager for Bradanick Construction Services. "When you get a project in Orillia and you get the support of council, it's a good warm feeling to be able to have a good community partnership."
For boaters, said Guptill, there is a suite section, which has 10 suites containing individual changing rooms, showers and washrooms. Those visiting the park will be able to access the building as well. The two-storey building will include a kitchenette if users of the community area wish to have food catered, said Guptill.
Port of Orillia, which is managed by the Orillia Chamber of Commerce, is glad to see the project coming along, said Mariano Tulipano, president-elect of the chamber.
"We've had a couple of tough years, but the temporary facility that was put in place by the city did a good job," he said. "We managed to have two successful seasons at the port despite the fire. Going forward, I think we have a lot to look forward to with the new facility. The city did a great job. It's a really exciting project and the building is beautiful."
The new building bears good news for the local business community, too, he said, as it relies greatly on tourism in summer months.
"I believe next season it's going to be a huge draw for boaters to the area to come and see the new facility. And once they see the facility, I have every confidence they're going to continue to make Port of Orillia a regular stop each summer," said Tulipano.
Mayor Steve Clarke said council made a decision fairly early in its term to work toward a replacement of the old building.
"I think (it) will be an enhancement and a beacon to boaters coming into our city. But also as we extend Coldwater Street through the mall and down to the waterfront, it'll be a focal point coming down the street," he said.