By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express
Oshawa is looking to cash in on some “I dos” inside the walls of city hall.
Following a motion that carried through the Corporate Services committee on March 26, Oshawa is one step closer to offering civil marriage services, and it couldn’t have come sooner.
For many, the fact that Oshawa doesn’t allow people to officially tie the knot at city hall comes as a surprise. In 2017, the city received over 150 inquiries about the possibility of walking down the aisle at city hall. It’s also noted in a recent staff report that Municipal Licensing gets such inquiries on a weekly basis.
The need, coupled with the fact that there is money to be made on the service, has Oshawa council considering opening the its doors to matrimony.
“Based on demand and a structure that requires minimal staff resources, it is felt that Oshawa should now consider this revenue generating customer service improvement,” the staff report reads.
“This has been a long time coming,” says Councillor Doug Sanders. “There’s the potential loss of revenue for the city for not performing these.”
However, the city has not always felt this way. It was in 2004 that the Marriage Act was amended to allow for municipal clerks or individuals under contract with municipalities to perform such civil marriages. In 2007, city staff recommended against wedding couples as there was no suitable location inside city hall to perform such services, and there was little public demand.
Clearly, times have changed.
“It is staff’s opinion that circumstances have changed such that this service should be reconsidered at this time and identified the feasibility as a specific objective in the Corporate Services Department Business Plan 2018,” the staff report reads.
Moving forward, staff are recommending that a contractor be brought in to perform the services inside the council chambers and possible alternative locations across the city.
And the service will also put a bit of money in the city’s pocketbook with a marriage licensing running between $130 and $135 and the ceremony itself costing around $310 when looking at other Durham municipalities that offer the service, including Pickering, Ajax, and Clarington. In Whitby, the civil ceremony comes with a $339 price tag.
The final vote on the report will go before council at its regular meeting on April 9.