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Council approves $4.2M in early spending

By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express

The early bird gets the worm – or in this case, the work.

At least that’s the hope of Oshawa city council after approving a batch of time-sensitive capital projects totalling $4.2 million at a special meeting of council.

The early approval, a process initiated last year, aims to have the city send out bids for priority projects early in the new year in order to nab lower prices, better contractors and possibly more competition for projects.

Road repairs and crack sealing in multiple locations across the city are the big ticket items on the city’s list, with a combined value of approximately $3.13 million.

Major repairs to the Centre Street parkade will run the city approximately $745,000. Audits and investigations in 2013 and earlier this year had found the aging structure was in need of work to fix eroding concrete and steel beams, waterproofing work as well as replacing pipes and drains.

Five new pickup trucks for the operations depot and an additional vehicle for fire services will run $238,000 and finally, the city is spending $150,000 on an audit into the street lighting system and to get an idea of the feasibility and cost-savings of switching over to LED lighting.

While the list of projects carried unanimously through council, some councillors voiced their concern with a couple of items that weren’t on the list.

At issue was $500,000 for the harbour lands project that was once again deferred to next year’s budget as being deemed unaffordable.

Councillor Amy England attempted to convince council of the time-sensitive nature of this project and the fact that the city has recently requested the federal government extend the timeline on Oshawa’s obligations to redevelop the land by 2017.

“We’re constantly deferring projects,” England said. “I think we need to be proactive instead of reactive.”

Councillor Doug Sanders also said he was concerned with the fact there didn’t seem to be money available for the project.

A motion brought forward by England to add it to the time-sensitive projects lost with only Sanders joining her in supporting it.

The time-sensitive capital projects are part of the city’s larger capital budget, which according to city reports totals approximately $23.57 million for 2016. This is a slight increase from the 2015 budget which saw $23.475 million in capital projects.

Council will continue budget deliberations in the new year. The first meeting is slated for Jan. 15, which will see the presentation of the operating budget.

Budget Timeline

  • – December 18, 2015, 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.  City Council Special Meeting – Capital Budget and Forecast Review (if necessary)
  • – January 15, 2016, 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. City Council Special Meeting –  Operating Budget presented to Council
  • – January 21, 2016, beginning at 1:30 p.m. Finance Committee Meeting – External Agency Presentations
  • – January 25, 2016, 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. City Council Special Meeting – Budget Deliberations
  • – January 26, 2016, beginning at 6:30 p.m City Council Special Meeting – To Receive Public Input on the Budget
  • – January 29, 2016, 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. City Council Special Meeting – Budget Deliberations and Approval
  • – February 5, 2016, 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. City Council Special Meeting – Budget Deliberations and Approval (if necessary)