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Issue Identification – Downtown

Updated: Aug 14, 2022

A healthy and prosperous downtown is the hallmark of every successful town and city.

Ward 4 is centered around our downtown, with its rich history and unique issues. There is little doubt that our Downtown requires some special attention by our City to bring it back to prosperous and healthy.

Ward 4 is a very diverse Ward, with many neighbourhoods and communities, and the Downtown core has its own unique issues that are very different from those other neighbourhoods, and we need to tackle the issues on a neighbourhood-by-neighbourhood basis. ALL of Oshawa has a stake in our Downtown and its prosperity. Since the opening of the Oshawa Centre, our Downtown has been suffering and neglected by the City of Oshawa. As our City continues to grow outwardly, the health of our downtown continues to be negatively impacted and reflects on our entire Ward. As a result, our Downtown deserves its own Platform Statement and vision for renewal.

At one time there was a strong BIA organization in the downtown which was funded primarily by the business owners. During those successful BIA years, many improvements were made including a tax re-assessment, many short-term programs by the City, but no long term committed approach to keeping our Downtown alive and vibrant.

During this term of Council, the BIA moved to a model of oversight with a paid staff rather than the successful volunteer led initiatives of the past. The hands-off approach, the ‘new model’ of BIA administration allowed staff to push for HUGE budget increases and controls that were not sustainable with the present economic realities and the dwindling downtown business finances.

Our Council wasn’t willing to listen to the business community who opposed increases of as much as 800% and the issue was forced upon Council who finally conducted an internal investigation (not a forensic audit) that found irregularities of many aspects. Eventually the City initiated a vote by BIA members that forced the disbandment of the BIA.

Since that time, the City has been tasked with taking over some elements of the former BIA programs, with moderate success. We look forward to the return of Kars on King later this month as the first real, public continuance of the former BIA.

We acknowledge that COVID played a large part in the slow transition of City efforts to take over certain BIA functions.

We also acknowledge the recent completion of the introductory stage of Plan Twenty/30.

And we acknowledge the development of a new Downtown Oshawa Business Alliance (DOBA) that has downtown businesses working in collaboration to improve the Downtown core.

A Ward 1 resident recently posted this on facebook:

Ward 4 is critical to Oshawa and all the other wards as right now it is draining too many resources away from other issues in the City and needs attention to get a plan together and implement it. The last four years have just brought four years of expensive "bandaid' actions that have achieved nothing to address the root causes of the problems. All we have to show for the last four years is a downtown that people are afraid to visit and the cruel image of private security guards moving the problem out of sight and out mind.

As residents of Ward 4, we know there is much more to the Ward than just the Downtown Core and its associated problems, however, we must work even harder to improve the image of our Downtown and Ward to our neighbours throughout the City of Oshawa. We need to take a measured approach to creating a welcoming, safe, and prosperous Downtown Core with a long-term action plan. No more band-aids. No more one-time efforts. We need to find real solutions to the age old and growing issues facing our downtown so that the rest of our Ward and City can also receive the investments and improvements they deserve.

Do you have thoughts on the issue? Would you like to add comments or information? Do you have another issue to discuss? Contact Jeff Davis, Candidate for Regional and City Councillor, Ward 4

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