PARTISANS and Town of Innisfil Unveil Updated Plans for The Orbit

PARTISANS and the Town of Innisfil have unveiled new concept plans for The Orbit masterplan. The unveiling comes with the Town’s approval of the Transit Hub design concept and Phase 1 concept, including residential, employment and community infrastructure.

The Transit Hub is designed to integrate landscaping that converts the central infrastructure of the Orbit into a park-like space, a nod to the rural surroundings of the community. The Orbit is designed to be oriented around sustainability, technology, placemaking and the start-up economy, and to prioritize public transit and walkability over dependence on cars.

Rendering courtesy of Norm Li

“We are excited to be forging ahead in bringing this new, innovative community to life that will be unlike anything else the world has seen before,” said Innisfil Mayor Lynn Dollin. “At the center of the Orbit is the Transit Hub, and this Council has taken a major step in building a new transit hub in Innisfil that will be critically-important post-COVID, not just for our economic recovery – but for decades to come.”

The Town of Innisfil and its council have unanimously supported the project from the beginning. The Transit Hub and the Orbit are seen as an important opportunity for shaping the population growth that is expected to come – rather than be shaped by it.

“What we have is an extraordinary opportunity to build a community that – in a nutshell – learns from the mistakes of suburban sprawl,” said Jason Reynar, Chief Administration Officer for the Town of Innisfil. “Imagine if every municipality around Toronto could go back thirty years and do things differently – and you start to get an idea of what we are on the cusp of building here with the Orbit.”

In June 2019, PARTISANS won a public RFP competition from the Town of Innisfil to create the vision for the Orbit. Subsequently, developers Cortel Group decided to move forward with the ambitious vision. Cortel Group commissioned the studio to realize its plan for housing and infrastructure that will support responsible, dense population growth and discourage sprawl, car traffic, the decentralization of civic services, and overdevelopment of the rural surroundings of the Town.

Rendering courtesy of Norm Li

The design of Orbit also leverages cutting-edge technology to create a city that is more accessible and sustainable, with a plan for mass fiber-optic cable systems that will provide connectivity across sidewalks, streets, and buildings as well considering future-forward concepts such as drone ports and self-driving cars to anticipate development over the longer term.

“We are thrilled with the enthusiastic public reception to our design and excited to move this project forward to the next step and begin planning and construction,” said Alex Josephson, partner at PARTISANS. “The Transit Hub embodies the conceptual heart of the project, combining the rural landscape with cutting-edge transit infrastructure to create a space for sustainable growth. It is the twenty-first century garden city model for eliminating sprawl and building sustainable cities of the future.”

The direct area surrounding the Transit Hub will include residential towers with over 900 units, space for retail and employment, and flex spaces to evolve with uses supporting social programming, restaurants, and wellness.

PARTISANS developed a bus route to easily transport residents from main hubs and off-site parking lots, in addition to tree-lined walkways and wide bike lanes reducing the Town’s dependency on cars. Ample green space and parks will be planned throughout the surrounding area, with areas for public art installations.

The design for The Orbit has also been adjusted with the post-pandemic era in mind, taking into account the potential increased need for spatial separation and access to quality outdoor space.