A New-Look Rest Stop for Highway Travellers

Service Centre image

The Highway 400 rest stop at Cookstown is scheduled to be demolished and rebuilt to a new design along with others on this route. The project is being managed by OnRoute. A public information drop-in session will be held from 4:00 pm to 8:00 pm on Thursday, April 14, 2011 (tomorrow) at the Cookstown Branch of Innisfil Public Library.

If you didn’t make it to the public information session here area few more details from the package that was handed out. The new centres will likely feature a Canadian Tire gas bar, a mix of fast food restaurants and other amenities. Food vendors on the OnRoute  web site include A&W, Burger King, Cold Stone Creamery, KFC/Taco Bell, PizzaPizza, and Tim Hortons.

The proposed travel centres have been designed in three sizes. The medium sized design consisting of 1,373 sq.m. (14,768 sq. ft.) is recommended for Cookstown location. It has space for 4  food vendors, a large common seating area, 2 sets of washrooms, an outdoor seating area and a travel mart convenience store.

Floor Plan, Option B, medium size travel centre

Tourism is a major focus of Innisfil’s strategic plan. One of the stated objectives of the design is to “introduce a unique, consistent and clearly identifiable image for service centres throughout Ontario, while linking each centre with its own community“. This design includes an open area near the entrance which is labeled as Ontario road map/info area. I was told this would include a large digital display, some kiosk-type display terminals for visitors to use and space where local organizations could set up displays or an information table. Apparently, the content and format in this area is being managed by the Ontario Tourism Ministry and the regional tourism organization, in this case, I assume RTO7.

The information package does not include any mention of energy efficiency or use of renewable technologies such as solar hot water. The “energy-efficient” glazing is intended to reduce the need for artificial light in the daytime. A large roof overhang provides shading. Waste water treatment options include a packaged waste water treatment plant, ultraviolet disinfection system or connection to municipal infrastructure.

On Route Travel Centre, Cookstown Site Plan

Parking facilities will be expanded to include separate parking areas for trucks and RVs. Truck drivers will need to walk from the truck parking (right side of the illustration) across the off- ramp, past the gas bar and vehicle parking area to reach the service centre (blue area on the illustration).  This may be a pleasant stroll in summer but did anyone consider the frequent windy white-out conditions commonly experienced in winter?

Next steps: public concerns will be considered and a Transportation Environmental Study Report (TESR) will be made available for public review for 30 days. A Notice of Study Completion will be published when the Report is ready to be reviewed.


One thought on “A New-Look Rest Stop for Highway Travellers

  1. I meet with senior level officials at OTMPC (Ontario Tourism Marketing Partnership Corporation) a wing of the Ontario Ministry of Tourism and Culture and they advised me that the original travel self serve brochure information kiosk concept in the original plans at these centres is being replaced with a digital monitor concerning regional tourism attractions.

    I recommend local municipal officials, tourism operators, heritage and artistic organizations in Innisfil and locally in Simcoe County should strongly urge the Ministry of Tourism and Culture to put a brochure system into the new Cookstown service centre.

    Otherwise the local tourism industry and local cultural festivals and events will never get the on the digital screen.
    Major attractions like Canada’s Wonderland and Marineland will get the lion’s share of the digital screen presented to transient motorists and tourists passing through Innisfil on the 400 highway at the Cookstown service centre and our local tourism economy and local mom and pop tourism stakeholders will lose out on the opportunity to promote our town of Innisfil.

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