There are many nearby parking alternatives along with a waterfront shuttle, officials say, while asking people not to cycle or in-line skate on boardwalk
ORILLIA DISTRICT CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
Despite the construction along Centennial Drive and the boat ramp, the Port of Orillia is operational and prepared for a busy 2023 season.
The Orillia & District Chamber of Commerce (ODCC), a non-profit organization of approximately 550 Orillia and area businesses, operates the Port of Orillia and directs any profits back into the community through its festivals and events, and through its programs supporting local business.
While access to the parking at the Waterfront Centre may be impacted by the roadwork for a portion of the season, there are many nearby parking alternatives for those visiting the Port of Orillia this summer. A temporary 105-space municipal will be available at 20 Front St. S., just a few minutes walk from the Port.
In addition, the municipality is operating a waterfront shuttle departing from Municipal Lot 6 (107 West Street South) in the downtown area. Many downtown off-street and on-street parking spaces are located within a 10-15 minute walk from the Port, and there is a fabulous selection of unique shops and restaurants to visit along the way.
“While the ongoing construction presents a temporary inconvenience, the boating public should know that the improvements with both the lot behind the Waterfront Centre and the boat ramp are going to bring amazing change at the Port of Orillia,” says ODCC Executive Director and Port of Orillia Harbour Master Allan Lafontaine.
“In the past, sand and phosphate runoff from storm drains created challenges like sandbars and weed growth. The new construction will bring positive changes that include collection of runoff materials and we expect weed growth will slightly diminish,” he added.
There are some important safety precautions that Lafontaine wants the public to be aware of during the construction, saying “We are asking the public to be patient with construction, and understand that the rules prohibiting cycling, rollerblading, and e-scooter transportation on the boardwalks and walkways at the Port of Orillia continue to apply during this time.”
Due to boats docking at the seawall and high levels of pedestrian traffic on the boardwalk, the addition of faster-moving traffic such as bicycles to the space creates a serious safety risk. The biggest concerns centre around someone falling into the water.
“The presence of nearby boat engines as well as the difficulty a cyclist or rollerblader would have getting out of the water with their gear on makes the risk even more serious,” says Lafontaine. “The bottom of the Port of Orillia is muck, which can make it extremely hard to get out of the water, which could lead to a tragic outcome.”
With portions of the bike trail being closed off due to construction, there has been an uptick in cyclists riding on the boardwalk. Says Lafontaine, “While cyclists are being permitted to walk their bikes along the boardwalk this season, it is imperative for them to dismount, for their safety and the safety of others. There are by-laws in place as well that can lead to fines, but most important is the safety of everyone.”
Some of the ODCC’s summer events will be impacted by the construction, while others will go ahead as usual.
The upcoming Spring Boat, Cottage, and Outdoor Show, which takes place on June 9-11, is moving to Tudhope Park. Boater events such as Christmas in June (June 25) and Mardi Gras in July (July 29) will take place at the Port.
The Waterfront Festival (Aug. 11-13) and Port of Orillia Pirate Party (Sept. 1-3) are being planned as Port events as well, assuming that construction moves forward within the planned timeframes. More information about summer events is available on the ODCC’s website, orillia.com.