2024 Boating Season in Orillia

For further information on the Orillia Waterfront area see: Navigating the Downtown Waterfront on the City of Orillia website.  

The boat launch at the downtown Orillia park, (off Centennial Drive) Couchiching Beach Park, is closed for at least part of this year. That's something of an issue for a city where nearly every  weekend a major event happens down at the park beside the boat ramp. There is nowhere nearby Couchiching Beach park to launch a boat. 

City of Orillia website lists it as closed, currently (May 2024). According to the design plans, it is likely to be closed until the beginning of July (See: Design & Parking), if everything runs on time. And in construction, you just can't know. 

Having only had a quick look at the plan ... I'm not sure how functional it will be. (See: Design Rendering)

We lived in Orillia for over 40 years. In spring to fall, the waterfront area is always quite busy. It's going to be even worse with recent changes. More residences (townhouses) in the area where the plaza was (currently, I think only Metro is left there, and no, you can't use their parking). Changes to the road from the bottom of Mississaga to the park, I'm not a big fan of, but I'll be fair and say I'm basically old-school and major changes usually don't make me very happy.  

The plan's new parking area looks large and looks nice enough, but I suspect it won't be enough, even though they do have some longer parking spaces designed for vehicles with a boat trailer attached. My guess is when the travellers discover that, they're gonna be pulling in there with campers and motorhomes.  

The bigger problem is only having one entrance - which also serves as the exit. It was bad enough with two access points to the road. Having only one could possibly end up with a pile up of a traffic - depending on the day. I think the chances of having traffic jams during large events (which happens almost every weekend at the park) are pretty big. I can't imagine 5,000 to 7,000 people trying to use that area during an event like the Scottish Festival.

Collins Drive Boat Launch Area

The only other city boat launch is at the end of Collins Drive on Lake Simcoe, not on Lake Couchiching. It's a little awkward to get to, since the access is off a residential street. (see: City of Orillia Collins Drive Boat Launch

There isn't sufficient parking at this boat launch for cars or trucks with an attached boat trailer. The city says parking is on the surrounding residential streets.  That's likely to cause problems for residents, depending on how many boats there are being launched at any given time.

The option at this launch is to launch the boat, then drive the vehicle and trailer to wherever parking is available in the neighbourhood, and then walk back to the launch area where the boat is. If you launch a boat on your own with no other individuals with you, this can be a problem.  As far as I'm aware, there is only one dock available at this launch area. Not enough to hold many boats, so on a busy weekend it could be slow to launch if you need to wait.

It's a little less of a problem if you have someone who stays in the boat while you go park and walk back as the boat doesn't need to be tied at the dock.

If you have a seasonal paid berth for your boat, you'll only have to launch once for the season, but if you don't, this could be an awkward summer for visiting boaters.

Beyond that, there are a few private marinas where you might be able to launch a boat, though being private, I would assume there are fees associated, and not all of them will have parking available either. For that matter, I honestly don't know if any of the local ones will even offer launch facilities.