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Costco planning to open in 2017

By Patrick Bales, The Orillia Packet & Times

Work is well underway at the future home of Orillia's Costco Warehouse. The store will open sometime in 2017. PATRICK BALES/THE PACKET & TIMES

Work is well underway at the future home of Orillia's Costco Warehouse. The store will open sometime in 2017. PATRICK BALES/THE PACKET & TIMES

One of the seven new Costco warehouse locations to open in 2017 will be in Orillia.

Near the start of the month, Costco announced it was opening more than twice the number of warehouses it typically opens annually, thanks in part of increased same-store sales year-over-year. Earlier this week, Costco spokesperson Ron Damiani confirmed Orillia was one of those stores.

"We don't have an exact date as we now speak," he said. "It's going to be between now and the end of August."

Damiani was emphatic in denying the possibility the Orillia location could be open before Christmas. Rather, he could only say sometime on the 2017 calendar prior to the end of Costco's fiscal year.

When Costco made its Orillia location official last fall, local developers and the city were confident the location would be open sometime this fall.

Around the time Costco was discussing its latest quarterly performance and future expansion plans with shareholders, a meeting between Costco and the city took place. Director of public works George Bowa and the city's road consultant met with Costco representatives about the significant work occurring in the city's west end simultaneously with the warehouse's construction.

Costco requested the meeting with the town to get a better understanding of the road construction currently ongoing and on the books in the Old Barrie Road area.

"Basically, we just poured through the contract plans," Bowa said. "Our meeting centred around them understanding that we have a contract - it's been awarded - and how we anticipate work for the rest of the year to be done."

Given the development's proximity to ministry-controlled highways, it had a number of conditions that needed to be met before signing off on the project. Before Costco put shovels in the ground, work began on the reconfiguration of the Old Barrie Road/Highway 11/12 interchange to the south, near Scout Valley. The four-way stop at Bass Lake Sideroad and West Ridge Boulevard will be replaced with traffic lights and a second right-turn lane for southbound traffic will go in at the Highway 11 South exit ramp at Highway 12 and Coldwater Road. Access to Old Barrie Road from Harvie Settlement Road will be eliminated.

In 2015, the city received nearly $1.575 million in funding from the upper tiers of government for the reconstruction of Old Barrie Road. The city's portion will come from the roads reserve and the development charges reserve. A further $2 million in funding from the province was awarded earlier this year to help with projects along Highway 12.

"We still don't have our final MTO approvals and sign-off," Bowa said. "But we are working with the MTO to dot the 'i's and cross the 't's for the proposed work."

The cost of the work has increased over time in the interest of meeting the Ontario Ministry of Transportation's requirements. The project, originally budgeted at approximately $3.8 million, was tendered for just under $4.4 million last month.

The 156,000-square-foot retail warehouse will feature a gas bar, propane station and seasonal garden centre. It is being constructed on a 14-acre parcel of land on the east side of University Avenue, across from Diana Drive.

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