Why Your Summer Road Trip Will Be The Best One Ever
Kilmer Van Nostrand Co and HMSHost opened the 20th new ONroute service centre last weekend in Innisfil, the final site in the overhaul of a system Kilmer chair Ken Tanenbaum says no longer served a growing traveller population.
That's Ken at the Innisfil centre grand opening on Sunday. The 20 new ONroute service centres, along Highways 400 and 401, were built in a public-private partnership with Ontario's Ministry of Transportation, which controls the rights-of-way. The sites, dating back 50 years, had been leased to oil companies (and subletted to food vendors). But the locations were lacking, says Ken. “There was no consistency of offering across the system. And these places weren't invested in for a long time.”
Kilmer Van Nostrand won the Infrastructure Ontario contract to design, finance, build and operate 23 service centres (20 are new builds; three other sites, rebuilt in the '90s, won’t come under the ONroute umbrella until 2025, Ken says). Kilmer JV’d with global travel food services provider HMSHost, which operates 99 motorway plazas across North America, and provides dining in 114 airports, including Toronto’s Pearson International. Canadian Tire, which operates gas bars at all the centres, is also a partner.
Designed by Quadrangle Architects, the 20 new ONroutes—all minimum LEED Silver, and designed for 50 years of continuous use—range from 9k to 21k SF (each cost $20M and took 10 months to build). The aesthetic is reflective of Ontario’s natural splendor. “We incorporated lots of stone, wood and glass,” says Ken, noting the roof peak conjures visions of a Canadian Shield outcrop. Food offerings vary (though each centre has a Tim Hortons and fresh food market) with 16 potential vendors including Pizza Pizza, Swiss Chalet and Burger King.
The ONroute project—a complex endeavour across 1,000 km of highway from Windsor to the Quebec border, and from Toronto to Barrie—represents IO's first revenue-based PPP (Kilmer, HMSHost and Canadian Tire all have a stake). Kilmer, which Ken notes “grew up in the PPP space as it’s evolved in Canada,” was also the winning bidder in IO’s second revenue-based deal, the Pan Am Games athletes village, to be converted into part of the new Canary District once festivities have concluded in August.