Innisfil, Ont., has some futuristic plans for a new development that was approved by town council last week.
Dubbed the Orbit, the community will combine “small town and rural lifestyles” with the “benefits of urban living,” with a new GO station at its centre.
“It’s our vision of where we want Innisfil to be in the future,” Innisfil Mayor Lynn Dollin told Global News.
“We’re trying really hard to attract more business within our community. But we also realize that today, 82 per cent of Innisfil residents who leave for work leave the community.”
Dollin said the town is struggling with residents who want the town to remain the way it is, with green space and agricultural land.
“At the same time, we know that we have to absorb a certain amount of growth and we want to attract a GO train station because it’s important to our community.”
Tim Cane, Innisfil’s growth director, said the project is being led by the town.
Toronto-based architecture firm Partisans is the consultant on the project and Vaughan-based developer the Cortel Group has partnered with the town on it, according to Jason Reynar, Innisfil’s chief administrative officer.
“The county of Simcoe, which is our upper-tier municipality, has been at the table with us, meeting almost every other week, I guess, for several months, participating in the process, as well as Metrolinx,” Reynar said.
According to Dollin, the new futuristic community could eventually end up being as high as 150,000 people, but in the near future, within 800 metres of the train station, there will be about 30,000.
Cane said there are five main themes that the vision for the Orbit was based on, including mobility, wellness and smart city principles.
“We think this is an attractive community for not only residential but also commercial, maybe light manufacturing, retail — the idea that you can live, work and play right in the same community,” Reynar said.
“Our hope is that it actually begins to attract startups and entrepreneurs and people who are looking for a community that’s not Toronto.”
Reynar said the town thinks the development will be attractive to all kinds of different demographics, such as baby boomers and young families.
The traditional GO station was originally projected to cost about $15 million, which would include a basic station with platforms, a tunnel and some shelters, Cane said.
“We see this as an opportunity to re-imagine that GO station into a design that’s part of the proposed buildings around there,” he added.
According to Orbit’s website, the development’s amenities would include ones that are designed for local entrepreneurs, as well as traditional and non-traditional industries, year-round sports and recreational options, and arts and culture spaces.
Reynar said the town hopes the GO train station will be designed next year and that construction will begin in 2021 and finish in 2022.
“Within five or six years, we should see people living there and people being able to use the GO train station,” he added.
Dollin said the town wants to hear what residents think about the vision for the development.
Residents can fill out a survey about the Innisfil GO station online and can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
“We know we have to grow,” Dollin said. “We want to make sure that when we do that, we preserve some of the things that our residents treasure now.”