Self-Storage Operator Fights Road Closure in Orillia, Ontario, Canada

An impending road closure in Orillia, Ontario, Canada, has left self-storage operator Orillia Storage looking for answers from the city. The city council passed a bylaw on Monday to close southern access to Harvie Settlement Road at Old Barrie Road, which has served as a primary traffic feeder to the self-storage facility. The facility’s property-management firm, WB Management, has formally protested the move, saying it could jeopardize the viability of the business, according to the source.

An impending road closure in Orillia, Ontario, Canada, has left self-storage operator Orillia Storage looking for answers from the city. The city council passed a bylaw on Monday to close southern access to Harvie Settlement Road at Old Barrie Road, which has served as a primary traffic feeder to the self-storage facility. The facility’s property-management firm, WB Management, has formally protested the move, saying it could jeopardize the viability of the business, according to the source.

"This change will significantly hurt us financially and might force us to actually close the business," WB Management representative Evan Sone wrote to the city last month. "Self-storage is not a business that does well on dead-end streets."

There appears to be little the self-storage operator can do to fight the closure. The city signed an agreement with the Ontario Ministry of Transportation in May to add a signal-controlled intersection at Old Barrie and Highway 11. The move is expected to improve safety for traffic exiting the highway and manage expected increases in motorists with the addition of Costco and Hydro One retail outlets in the Horne Business Park area. The closure of the southern end of Harvie Settlement, which runs along the highway, was deemed necessary for the project, the source reported. The provincial government reportedly has pressured the city to eliminate traffic entering or exiting Old Barrie for several years.

Though a new road recently opened to steer traffic to Harvie Settlement from University Avenue, the road closure will cut off the north-south flow of traffic on which the storage facility relies, Sone told the source. "We're not going to get any drive-by traffic now," he said. "We chose that location for two reasons: the highway exposure of Highway 11 [and] the community road of Harvie Settlement Road, where a lot of people go through."

If the city won’t reverse course on the closure, Orillia Storage has requested a tax break, assistance with new directional signage, and a guarantee that no competing self-storage businesses will be allowed to open nearby as compensation. Though a tax break isn’t likely and zoning requirements already create a difficult path for self-storage in the nearby business park, the city could potentially assist with new facility signage, the source reported.

"They're huge community supporters; when you go into their foyer, you see pictures of hockey teams they've sponsored," councilmember Jeff Clark told the source. "If they apply for the signage variance, we can help them out with that."

The road is scheduled to close by March 1.

Orillia Storage at 575 Harvie Settlement Road offers units ranging from 25 to 300 square feet as well as boat/RV parking spaces. It provides tenants with 24-hour access.

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