RELEASED July 1, 2015


The group proposing to turn the former Huronia Regional Centre grounds into an international arts and cultural destination says getting the city on board soon is critical.

"It’s the first step among many that will have to be taken," said Huronia Cultural Campus (HCC) steering committee member Anderson Charters.

Monday night, Charters and his colleagues, Don Ross and Will McGarvey, presented the visionary plan for the 265-acre property to council. They requested support and seed funding of $25,000 to establish an office and hire a staff member to create a website.

Council passed a motion have staff work with the HCC steering committee during the summer to review its proposed budget and business plan. Staff is expected to report back by August.

"It’s a welcome decision," Charters said.

The proposed redevelopment of the site — with performance venues, art galleries, meeting spaces and live-work studios — is anticipated to take decades.

"You can’t get too uptight about a month here and there," Charters said.

He said his only concern is the group has applied to the federal government’s sesquicentennial fund for national signature projects in 2017. If its proposal to build an outdoor amphitheatre and sculpture garden makes it to the next stage, it will need more resources, and quickly.

"I’m reminded that you three are not to be taken lightly," Mayor Steve Clarke told Charters, Ross and McGarvey in discussion following the presentation.

The three men were part of the community group that drove Lakehead University’s expansion to Orillia.

Coun. Pat Hehn said she had attended some of the steering committee’s meetings.

"I can see such wonderful things happening," she said.

Charters said the province, which owns the property, and the Orillia Area Community Development Corporation (CDC), which said it will help with fundraising, have both indicated they want to see a buy-in from the city.

"… We would be interested in discussing ways that we can also support this project," the CDC said in a letter in Monday night’s agenda package. "However, before we can consider our involvement with our very limited resources, it is important that we have confirmation that the City of Orillia is willing to be a significant partner and take a leadership role in driving this project forward."


Source: Orillia Packet & Times