By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express
As the discussions around access to the Oshawa pier continue between the city and the port authority, the city is set to complete an assessment to analyze its options.
At the most recent meeting of the city’s Community Services committee on May 10, it was noted by staff that following three meetings between the two sides, the city is now set to undertake an insurance assessment for the pier.
“Both parties are working toward resolving the issue and keeping it open,” says commissioner of community services Ron Diskey.
Following the assessment, to be completed by representatives with the Durham Municipal Insurance Pool (DMIP), Diskey says more information on go-forward options will be made available.
The city joined the DMIP in 2017, coming together with the other regional municipalities, which, according to a city report at the time, allowed for increased flexibility with the city’s insurance coverage, greater control of the administrative aspects and more stable premiums.
The issue of pier access became a hot topic in the city after a letter was received from the OPA in April suggesting an incident that occurred in 2017 may cause them to stop allowing public access to the pier adjacent to Lakeview Park.
For Mayor John Henry, he advised staff to assess how other municipalities handle issues around their respective piers in areas like Whitby, Clarington, Newcastle and Port Perry, noting that there must be some kind of precedent for dealing with these issues.
“Hopefully we come to some agreement, but the other issue is there are significant piers throughout the region, how are those being managed?” he asked. “I’m wondering how insurance affects them as well.”
During the meeting, resident Dale Jodoin stressed the importance of the pier at Lakeview Park to Oshawa citizens and the history of the city.
“Somehow we’ve lost sight of what it means to be down at the lake. Our lake is beautiful,” he said. “If you walk around the lakefront, we’ve lost barbecuing, now it’s by permit, we’ve lost a lot.”
Jodoin was also concerned that a lot of the discussions surrounding the pier were being done behind closed doors. During the recent meeting councillors were all in possession of a confidential letter from the port authority, the contents of which were not being made public.
“Instead of sitting here with secret little notes, make it public,” Jodoin said. “You’re elected by the people of Oshawa, that lake belongs to us.”
Councillor Nester Pidwwerbecki took exception to Jodoin’s claims that things were being done secretly, stating that council is doing all they can to keep the pier open to the public.
“There’s nothing secret going on,” he said. “We’re doing everything we can to keep that open, but we have obligations to meet…We have to have certain things in place to protect our citizens.”
Jodoin was also concerned that by the time the city and the port authority were able to come to any agreement, the summer months may be over and the access once again closed for the winter.
“I know you’re working hard to get it back and I’m thankful for that…but I want to see an interim agreement to open it up now,” he said. “We can’t let the harbour push us around. I know there’s agreement, but they shut the door awfully quick.”
Diskey noted that the city hopes to be able to complete the insurance assessment as quickly as possible.