ORILLIA, ONT. -- Weather, a worker shortage and a global pandemic delayed progress on the new Orillia recreational centre for years.

"It's been, quite frankly, a long and winding road. The people of Orillia have been very patient for a very, very long time," said Mayor Steve Clarke.

The impressive $55.5 million facility was initially slated to open two years ago, but after plenty of bumps along the way, the centre will finally open its doors.

With 132,000 square feet and multiple levels, the mayor said the building has plenty of space to host major functions.

"We can open up almost a 15,000 seat gymnasium floor, plus another 500 seats in the stands. Whether it's a graduation or a significant trade show," Clarke said.

However, with the centre opening during an international pandemic and public health guidelines to follow, it won't be the grand opening the city had planned.

"Everybody that comes into the building will be screened upon entry. Everybody has to register for potential contact tracings," said Ray Merkley with the City of Orillia.

The facility's size allowed the health unit some wiggle room with the recommendations of 50 people inside a public space.

"It's not 50 in the entire building, it's 50 in say gym one, 50 in gym two, 50 in the fitness centre," said Merkley. "As long as physical distancing can be maintained."

The Orillia Sports Hall of Fame will also be housed inside the new rec centre located at 255 West Street South..

The city plans to have the doors open to the public by the end of the month.