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City looking to improve aid for downtown renos

A small change in the city’s grant programs could allow for building owners to get grants for electrical repairs.

By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express

A small change could be a big help for downtown building owners as the City of Oshawa is considering offering grants for electrical work to old buildings in and around the city centre.

The change came As part of a small amendment to the Urban Growth Centre Community Improvement Plan (CIP) that went before council during its recent meeting of the Development Services committee, suggesting the addition of electrical upgrades as as eligible cost for grant funding.

Currently, under the CIP, which includes all of the Downtown Business Improvement Area and some outlying areas, building owners can apply for a number of grants to assist in covering everything from ventilation, heating and plumbing improvements along with the larger Facade and Accessibly Improvement Grant or Increased Assessment Grant.

“In this particular case, there are different programs in the downtown Urban Growth Centre CIP, some of them are like the Building Code and Fire Code upgrades, but what we’ve been finding is that a lot of the applicants that have been approaching the city for funding, they list electrical upgrades,” says Paul Ralph, the commissioner of development services. “When you look at some of the cost estimates to upgrade upper floors to residential for example, electrical is a big one, so this is just trying to help out and add another key component to the list of eligible costs.”

And while the funding envelope for the program remains the same at approximately $60,000 for the CIP, the small change can help many building owners with costly repairs, Ralph says.

“When you’re into those older, upper storeys, you need to upgrade the electrical as well, but that’s not an eligible cost under our grant program. So, this is just a simple change to add as an eligible cost, electrical upgrades as well,” he says.

The final vote will go to council for approval on April 9.

The City of Oshawa has a number of CIPs covering various areas of the city to assist with development and renovations in key areas. The plans include the Brownfields Renaissance CIP, the Harbour Road Area CIP, the Simcoe Street South Renaissance CIP, and the University and College Area Renaissance CIP.

A new CIP for the Wentworth Street West corridor is also currently under consideration by council.