Driving Community Sustainability through Orillia’s New Official Plan

You are likely aware that, through the current Municipal Comprehensive Review (MCR), Orillia has taken its first steps towards a new Orillia Official Plan that may involve expanding the city boundaries. The MCR is required by the province. Learn how it informs Orillia’s long-range land-use planning at  https://www.orillia.ca/en/city-hall/municipal-comprehensive-review.aspx.

You may also be aware that the review has already sparked some controversy. Many people in and around Orillia do not want the City to expand its boundaries into adjacent areas. At the same time, there is pressure to increase housing capacity – not just in response to the province’s plans, but also as a consequence of Orillia’s rate of population growth. 

The latest Census data confirms that, since 2016, Orillia has grown at a rate of 1.4% per year.  If this rate of growth continues, Orillia will exceed the 2051 population target set by the Province. Much of the recent growth stems from the migration of people from the GTA during COVID, and that will likely continue, albeit at a slightly reduced rate. Then there is “climate migration”—both within Canada and through international immigration – a factor that is expected to trigger more growth in the decades to come.  Simply put, one way or another Orillia will need room to grow.  

Sustainable Orillia is opposed to unnecessary urban sprawl, and we believe there is a way to grow and still protect the sustainability of the community and surrounding lands.  We plan to be an informed voice in this debate, and, through our Infrastructure and Energy Sector, we are researching and developing a position paper for submission to City Council.  The development of the Sustainable Orillia submission will be anchored on the following points:

  • That Orillia’s Official Plan will be a significant determinant of long-term community sustainability, in many ways equal to the Climate Change Action Plan (Orillia’s Climate Future). They need to be aligned;
  • That an objective and comprehensive approach is necessary to develop and offer practical and feasible alternatives; and
  • That a set of planning principles be established that is informed through public consultation and implemented to steer the MCR process and ensure a “made in Orillia” Official Plan. (Note that City Council recently requested City Staff to look into how these principles can be incorporated into the process. Their report is expected soon.)

If you have the passion, interest, time and ability to contribute to the development of this work,  please contact Stan Mathewson, president@sustainableorillia.ca.

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