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Just what’s needed as planet warms: High-end auto project in O-M

In Council Watch
Aug 24th, 2020
Premier Doug Ford at ground-breaking

Ontario Premier Doug Ford at the groundbreaking ceremony for Oro Station on Aug. 20, alongside representatives from local, provincial and federal governments.

Ontario gears up to be home to world’s first racetrack, luxury car club and auto hub – Oro Station

By MATT BUBBERS Special to the Globe and Mail

It takes a wild imagination to envision Oro Station, a new racetrack, luxury car club and automotive industry hub being built in Oro Medonte, Ont. Not only is that because it’s an ambitious development the likes of which doesn’t exist in this country – nor, perhaps, in the world – but also because on this day in early August, the site is little more than 200-acres of grassy, overgrown farmland.

Driving an off-road buggy that’s kicking up a thick plume of dirt while bouncing across what will, eventually, become the racetrack’s pit-lane, is Geoffrey Campbell, managing partner of Oro Station. He must be doing nearly 100 km/h.

Campbell is a developer, managing partner at Oakleigh Developments, but he’s also a car fanatic and Oro Station is his baby. It’s something he’s been thinking about for 10 years. Now it’s starting to become real.

Campbell leans out of his buggy and points out where the main boulevard and pit building will be. “Imagine walking through this facility,” he says. “You’ve got a museum sitting here, you stopped by the cafe for coffee, the garage doors are open here where they’re working on a bunch of vintage Mustangs,” he says. Around the corner could be an autonomous car prototype in development, and down the road Porsche or BMW might be hosting a track day for prospective customers.

Premier Doug Ford attended the groundbreaking ceremony for Oro Station on August 20, along representatives from local, provincial and federal governments.

“There’s no reason why we can’t make our province the top destination for auto innovation and this project will help us maintain our position as leaders in the sector across North America,” Premier Ford said.

The 216-acre site is located between Barrie and Orillia, and will create 700 jobs, with roughly 300 on-site, according to an economic impact analysis commissioned by the developers. The project’s groundbreaking comes at a critical time for the province’s auto industry, which is dependent on auto makers investing here to develop and produce electric and automated cars.

What makes Oro Station unusual and unique is its vast range of intended uses; something like Disneyland meets Silicon Valley for all things automotive. It bills itself as “Ontario’s destination for the racers and restorers, the educators and innovators, the enthusiasts and entrepreneurs.” Campbell frequently mentions “community building” and “education.”

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