BARRIE, ONT. -- The City of Orillia started a new program to allow residents to park at the waterfront and launch their boats free of charge this summer.

The 2021 parking program includes Couchiching Beach Park, Centennial Park, Veterans' Memorial Park and J.B. Tudhope Memorial Park lots and surrounding streets and the Couchiching Beach Park and Collins Drive boat launches.

Residents and business owners can only apply for a permit through the city's online request form available here.

Permits are tied directly to a vehicle licence plate number.

In a release, Orillia's mayor said the city hopes to prevent congestion along the waterfront and discourage visitors with the permit program.

"As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage on, we anticipate Orillia will have similar challenges as last summer because of overcrowding at our waterfront parks. With the health and safety of everyone visiting our parks top of mind, council decided to reimplement the Waterfront Parking and Boat Launch Program in order to help manage crowding and discourage travel to Orillia from more restricted zones," said Mayor Steve Clarke.

Visitors to the waterfront will have to pay $50 to park and $50 to launch a boat.

The Waterfront Parking and Boat Launch Program runs from June 4 to Sept. 12 on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and holidays between 7 am and 7 pm.