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Landmark demolished to make way for future developments


A landmark on the edge of Orillia is now in ruins.

Demolition is underway on the Atherley Arms building along Highway 12 to make way for future development.

"The owners just want to clean the site up and get rid of all the garbage, and it will be a vacant lot for now," said Township of Ramara Mayor Basil Clarke.

According to Clarke, the developer's long-term plan is to build a residential 12-unit structure.

The mayor noted sewer and water infrastructure limitations as factors for the delays with the property development.

"Until we get water and sewer for the Rama Road corridor and Highway 12, unfortunately, this place just can't move forward," said Clarke.

Over the last century, the property and the several extensions and renovations of the Atherley Arms building have served as a gentleman's club, restaurant and bar.

Crews demolish the Atherley Arms building on Highway 12 in Ramara Township, Ont., on Nov. 29, 2022 (CTV News/Kraig Krause)

For many locals, the building served as a landmark and brought back memories of their youth.

"It meant a lot of things to a lot of different people," said Chrissy Hucker, a long-time area resident.

"Some of the old-timers will remember a time when some of the guys come off fishing from the lake and sell their white fish to pay for their beer. Not mentioning any names."

Hucker had hoped the building could have been preserved rather than left to deteriorate.

"It's been a historic landmark all my life, and I kind of miss it, and I know there was a lot of negative connotations with it, especially in the later years," said Hucker.

Many neighbours said they have been waiting for the building to be removed for years, calling it an eyesore.

According to the mayor, the building sat vacant for nearly 20 years and was deemed unusable.

Clarke said he sympathizes with those who have fond memories of the building but added it was time to move on.

"When you look at the township, and how we move forward, how we want to progress with economic development, this site has been a real eyesore. It's the first thing you see when you enter our township," he said.

According to Clarke, the council agreed to give the developer a 20-year abatement period of development charges to help speed up the cleanup process. Top Stories

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