The Orbit: Innisfil is our vision for a complete, cutting-edge community to be built around the area of the 6th Line and east of 20th Sideroad. We envision a community where our small town and rural lifestyles are enhanced by the benefits of urban living. Perhaps most important of all, the Orbit allows Innisfil to expand while we preserve our natural and agricultural lands; it’s the best of both worlds.
On August 9, 2021, the Province of Ontario announced that a Ministerial Zoning Order (MZO) has been made to designate lands on the 6the Line for the Town of Innisfil’s future Orbit transit hub. (See Map No. 264 Referred to in MZO.)
An MZO is an important tool Town staff is recommending we use to build a new GO station in our community as soon as possible. It will help ensure our Town has a solid economic recovery following COVID-19 and that residents have more transit and housing options. If you wish to address Council about this topic please email our Clerk’s Office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The MZO includes guidelines for how the land immediately surrounding the transit station (i.e., land within 425 metres of the proposed GO station) can be used, including for spaces like retail, business, residential, affordable housing, recreation and more, as well as protection of key environmental features, including woodlands and wetlands. The lands outside of this area will be addressed in the future through a Secondary Plan, where the Town will once again look for input from the community later this year.
An Environmental Registry of Ontario (ERO) notice has been posted to establish a timeframe for permit and compensation agreement under the Convservation Authorities Act for the Orbit MZO lands. The public comment period closed on September 6, 2021.
- An important staff report (External link)about the Innisfil Mobility Orbit went before Innisfil Council on October 14, 2020. This report introduced a draft MZO for Council. Watch the Council meeting.
- We held a virtual open house: Ask a Planner on October 19, 2020 for community members to ask questions about the project. Watch the recording.
- Public feedback on the draft MZO was accepted until October 26. See what your fellow community members said.
Frequently Asked Questions
We designed this FAQ by examining the most frequent questions and comments that we have received to date. You can also access this ongoing collection of resident feedback and responses.
Public consultation prior to and during the pandemic revealed that the construction of the Innisfil GO Station remains a high community priority. To respond to this, construction will commence as early as 2022, and the Ministerial Zoning Order (MZO) will facilitate the construction of much needed housing and jobs with access to transit, which is of even greater priority during these unprecedented times.
In order for the developer to secure financing for the construction of the proposed station as envisioned for The Orbit, and to meet the designated time frame for construction, an expedited planning approval process is required. As a result, a request of the Province for a MZO by the Town with support from the County of Simcoe, is proposed. Though an MZO cannot be appealed, the public will have the right to appeal the upcoming Secondary Plan.
The Orbit was introduced to the public on Nov. 27, 2019 and a variety of engagement tools have been used to inform and consult the public. Here is a summary, which encompasses what we have done to this day. Rest assured, we will be continuing to educate and consult the public as this development moves forward:
- The densities envisioned for the Major Transit Station Area were identified in the Town’s Our Place Official Plan, which is a reflection of several years of community input and consultation (from 2015 to 2018). Through Our Place consultation we heard of the importance of place making – creating vibrant parks and public spaces and protecting and preserving our agricultural land and natural resources. This feedback provided the foundation for The Orbit.
- The initial Orbit presentation, which was brought to Council in November of 2019, has been made available via YouTube and www.getinvolvedinnisfil.ca/orbit, along with all Council meetings that discussed the Orbit
- 2 focus groups have been held: 1 in-person, and 1 virtually. The virtual focus group was recorded and has been made available online via www.getinvolvedinnisfil.ca/orbit (see “Videos”)
- A Get Involved Innisfil page has been live since the initial conversations surrounding the development of a GO Station (March 28, 2018)
- So far, the Get Involved Page has received over 23,304 web page views, and 490 responses to a survey asking about potential GO train use
- Currently, there is an open forum tool available for the public to discuss the recent report that went to Council regarding the use of an MZO. There is also a Q&A tab open, as well as newsfeed
- 4 general newsletters have been emailed to 2,100 residents via Get Involved Innisfil, updating them on recent news, open surveys, and important dates and decisions.
- There is an Orbit brochure available on our website and at Town Hall
- A promotional video was created in November of 2019 and there have been roughly 50,000 views to date. It is available via YouTube, Get Involved Innisfil, and innisfil.ca
The community’s feedback will continue to inform the finalization of the Minister’s Zoning Order as well upcoming community engagement in the Secondary Plan process for the entire Major Transit Station Area.
The environment is a priority for residents and will remain a priority throughout this project. As part of the Environmental Assessment Study for the 6th Line improvements in 2016, a number of technical studies including environmental were completed for lands in the vicinity of 6th Line and within the Orbit MZO. See the studies.
Further studies are forthcoming and will require consultation with the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority prior to construction to help ensure that there are no negative impacts on Lake Simcoe and its watershed. The upcoming Secondary Plan for the Orbit will also include public input on the development of specific policies to protect and enhance air and water quality and the health of Lake Simcoe.
The 6th Line location, which is adjacent to the Alcona settlement boundary, was selected after a screening process undertaken by Metrolinx and endorsed by Town Council in 2016. The 8th Line/IBR was not selected for a station for various operational/logistical reasons such as the need for a grade separation/bridge over IBR.
As the Town grows into the future, focusing development around the GO Station will help protect and preserve more of the Town’s agricultural land and natural spaces. For example, accommodating 30,000 residents through the typical densities of sprawling subdivisions (50 people per hectare), would require approximately 600 hectares of land. This is about 3 times more land than accommodating 30,000 people at the minimum density of 150 people per hectare envisioned for the Orbit.
The presentation and report to Council on July 15, 2020 provided the station design based on the requirements of Metrolinx (i.e. platform, station, access, bus and vehicle drop off, vehicle and bicycle parking). These documents are available at getinvolvedinnisfil.ca/go.
The densities proposed in the MZO inner circles (Transit Oriented Community Zones 1 and 2) are supported by the Province’sGrowth Plan and the Town’s Our Place Official Plan direction for minimum densities of 150 people and jobs per hectare around major transit stations.
The Town’s Master Servicing and Transportation Plans will be updated to align with planned growth within Innisfil, including the Orbit. As part of the site plan control process, further technical studies will be required.
Within the next few years, Innisfil will be home to a new GO Station – something that will provide faster, better access to regional transportation. But we aren’t just building another cookie-cutter shelter with a parking lot – we know this is an opportunity to provide our community with a real transit hub and much more. With this in mind, our complete community is designed with how people will live, travel, interact, play and work – or Orbit – in and around it; without a doubt, this is the defining design principle of The Orbit: Innisfil.
We know and understand that our population will continue to expand and the Orbit allows Innisfil to grow in a way that preserves our natural landscapes and habitat by concentrating all of our future expansion into one place. Our natural agricultural lands, forests, trails, habitats, historical buildings will be untouched, just as our community has always wanted. By containing and shaping development, we will be building a stronger community, preventing sprawl, supporting sustainability and protecting the environment and the picturesque farmlands that make us all proud to call Innisfil home.
We know that most of our population has to commute for employment, which is why much of the Orbit focuses on boosting our local economy, by creating an environment that supports local entrepreneurs and businesses to create more local jobs. We envision the Orbit will be a place that supports a thriving community of start-up businesses and includes the supportive ecosystem required to nurture and grow them. Our ecosystem includes mentorship, space, networks, access to capital and more. Make no mistake, we want to see the Orbit: Innisfil become the start-up base for Simcoe County and beyond.
Living at the Orbit means residents would no longer have to travel to Barrie or Toronto, thanks to a full suite of amenities, including designed for local entrepreneurs and traditional and non-traditional industries, year-round sports and recreational options, arts and culture spaces and more. With the GO Station at its centre, the Orbit offers numerous transportation options to connect it to Innisfil’s surrounding hamlets thanks to pedestrian-first streets, enhanced cycling options, accessibility initiatives and an Innisfil Transit system that takes advantage of autonomous vehicles and encourages shared trips.
The Orbit features a full range of public and private amenities, offering a kaleidoscope of retailers including farmers’ markets, pop-up shops, mixed with the community hub offerings from the Innisfil ideaLAB and Library such as hacklabs and makerspaces, all woven together with surrounding walkable spaces.
Our first priority is getting a new GO station built in Innisfil and we are working hard to make that happen. The Orbit is the result of input from Council, community leaders, architects, developers, builders and more. As the Orbit comes together, there will be even more opportunities for you to share your feedback and get involved.
If you have questions about the Orbit, please email our Planning Team.