The newest executive director for the downtown Business Improvement Area (BIA) Garth Johns has some strong ideas on how to lift Oshawa’s core out of the doldrums.
In short, the solution starts with “feet on the street.”
More events and more people can only have a positive impact on Oshawa’s downtown. On this score, Johns is spot on.
A fringe festival, a farmer’s market, more wine festivals like that recently hosted at the RMG, remind people when they visit the downtown that it is changing for the better.
A vibrant atmosphere is the beginning of what eventually becomes that ineffable quality that successful downtowns have.
It takes a lot of hands to raise a village and the downtown BIA is just part of that revitalization process. The City of Oshawa and the Region of Durham both have roles to play when it comes to putting further money into the social, health and infrastructure improvements it will take to get to the root of the problem in Oshawa’s downtown.
Those at city hall will point to the 20Twenty plan for the downtown, a document that lays out a series of recommendations and plans to improve the core of our city. The document was passed through council in 2014, with a timeframe to have its serious recommendations completed over the next five years or so.
In September 2015, this newspaper ran a story noting that the city was on track to complete nearly all of its 22 goals set out in the plan for that year. However, the city has remained mum on just how well the rest of the plan is going.
The same goes for the region. The region’s Health Neighborhoods mapping system identified areas to improve regarding the health and welfare of some of its residents. Now we need to know how these issues are being addressed.
With that said, the BIA is working hard with their municipal partners to ensure that getting more “feet on the street” and improving the vibrancy of the downtown is not only a priority for them, but everyone who has skin in the game.