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Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Deal Secured To Continue Bus Service To Orillia Square Mall

Orillia | by Ian MacLennan  

Mall management company and Severn Township chipping in cash.

The wheels on the transit bus will continue to go round and round to the Orillia Square Mall.

Council committee last night approved a one year extension agreement that would continue to provide transit to the mall, which is located in Severn Township.

Severn and the mall's management company have agreed to pony up $15,000 each.

The deal secures bus service to the mall until April 30,2020,  while staff have been authorized to review and re-negotiate the transit services agreement with Severn Township and the mall's management company to continue the service beyond that date.

In 2017,  the previous mall owners did not renew the agreement with the City to provide transit and cover the $47,500 cost.

Mayor Steve Clarke noted the lost revenue and wondered why the city was on the hook for more than 1/3 of the cost,  saying Severn benefits through property taxes and he believes the mall benefits from having ridership.

He said he was not ready to derail the deal over $2,500.

The Orillia Square Mall is the third most popular weekday stop within the city's transit system after Lakehead University and Georgian College,  with about 45,000 passenger rides annually.

Councillor Ted Emond said he is opposed in principle to the delivery of any taxpayers of Orillia service outside of the city to non taxpayers of Orillia.

But Councillor Tim Lauer noted the decision to provide transit to the mall was made long ago and that the city was taking its citizens who are paying for their transit system to where they want to go.

The staff report said the management company advised that the Orillia Square Mall will be undergoing a major redevelopment over the next two years and occupancy rates are expected to increase folllowing completion of the project.

The 2019 operating budget approved earlier this month does not include contract revenue for the provision of transit service to the mall.

The agreement still requires city council's ratification at its meeting on March 4th.

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