Orillia allocates $200,000 in downtown improvement grants; with five projects receiving $77,500

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By Robin MacLennan

Ontario Construction News staff writer

Five projects will receive a total of $77,500 from Orillia’s Downtown Tomorrow Community Improvement Plan (DTCIP) Grant Program.

“As of today, we’ve awarded $200,000 in DTCIP grants in 2019, making this our best year since the program was launched in 2017,” Mayor Steve Clarke said in a news release. “This is very exciting because it means that we are seeing an increase in development in the core of the city, which is resulting in new housing and jobs for the community and a great return on investment.”

The program was initiated to stimulate development in the Orillia’s core by helping property owners in the area make improvements to their properties, hoping to attract new customers and increase the number of people living and working downtown.

“Now that we are in our third year of the program, we are able to see the impacts the grant is having on the downtown,” said Laura Thompson, manager of real estate and commercial development.

“As some of the larger projects such as Apple Annie’s expansion are completed, we are learning that the program has on average a 1:16 return on investment – meaning that for every one dollar the city grants to a property owner, that property owner is investing $16 of their own money.”

A total of 16 jobs have been created as a result of improvements funded by the DTCIP and an additional 25 jobs are anticipated to be created once outstanding projects such as the Couchiching Brewery and Creative Nomad Studios are complete. Funding has also been granted for 26 new residential units.

To date, 88 per cent of applicants commented that they would recommend the program to others, and that it allowed them to undertake projects that they otherwise couldn’t afford. Applicants have also advised that grants have allowed them to undertake projects sooner than originally planned – stimulating downtown revitalization.

As part of the third intake of the 2019 DTCIP Grant Program, five grants were awarded:

62 Peter St. N. – $7,500 (St. Paul’s Centre)

  • Façade improvements to install a barrier-free access ramp as part of a broader project that includes the replacement of planter boxes, exterior brickwork repair, installation of a new sign and painting of a mural on west side of building

69 Peter St. S. – $52,568 (Former Laser Tag building)

  • Replace windows, convert part of the commercial building to 10 residential units and install an elevator

126 Mississaga St. E. – $10,100 (NABI Inc./Steenhof)

  • Update and improve exterior signage, repair and replace exterior bricks and to engage a designer to improve and refine the layout of the space to accommodate a new health care hub.

36 Andrew St. S. – $4,096 (Hartley Haus)

  • Facade improvements to upgrade existing signage and update and replace awnings

19 Mississaga St. W. – $3,235 (Diane’s Beauty Salon)

  • Facade improvements to install new windows and installation of a new business sign.

Details regarding the 2020 DTCIP programs are anticipated to be released in early 2020.

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