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City voting program questioned

By Dave Flaherty/The Oshawa Express

A candidate for Ward 5 is not happy with the city’s new pilot program aimed at increasing voting in multi-residential buildings.

Brian Nicholson, a former city councillor, says the majority of the nine buildings included in the project are located in the city’s north end. The one located in Ward 5 is at 1481 Ritson Road South.

In preparation for the pilot program, city staff set out a number of criteria.

Program invitations were sent out to multi-residential buildings that had 100 or more units, and had an accessible and appropriate space to allow for voting. Consent from property management in each facility had to be received as well.

Specifically, Nicholson questions limiting the program to buildings with 100 or more units, a number he believes was selected “basically arbitrarily.”

“This is just show,” he told The Oshawa Express. “Basically, if it’s only for two wards out of five, its arbitrary rules that exclude [the other wards]. It can’t just be a north Oshawa idea.”

Nicholson says most of the buildings in Ward 5 are older and naturally smaller.

“In the Marlan and Glen area, about 50 per cent are three storey walk-ups,” he says.

He also says he spoke with the management of two buildings in Ward 5 that would meet the city’s criteria.

“The two in the area that were approached said they were definitely interested,” he says.

But Nicholson claims the city never followed up.

He suggested, for example, that residents of 300 and 400 Grenfell could be offered the program in a combined effort.

Nicholson is also unsatisfied with the location of advanced and election-day polling stations in Ward 5.

The designated voting station for Ward 5 is the South Oshawa Community Centre located on Cedar Street.

“The buses don’t run down there. It couldn’t be any further away from the areas that need to vote more,” he says.

City Clerk Andrew Brouwer says he appreciates some of Nicholson’s concerns but states his department has to develop the program, and election planning overall, with all of Oshawa in mind.

“We are looking at it on a citywide basis based on the budget and spaces we have,” he says.

Brouwer says the city is offering more advance voting opportunities than ever before.

In terms of the South Oshawa Community Centre, Brouwer says while there may be some transportation barriers, it provides the stable internet connection that is required.