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Future of public boat launch ramp in Oshawa still unclear

Discussion highlights disconnect between council and staff

Discussions are ongoing surrounding a public boat launch at the Oshawa Harbour, however, when such water access will be created is very much uncertain.

By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express

For 16 years, resident Larry Ladd has been pushing council to move ahead with the construction of a marina and public boat launch ramp at the Oshawa waterfront.

However, all that time, little action has been taken to make that happen, and during the most recent meeting of the Development Services committee, it was made clear that staff and city council are still not on the same page on the future of Oshawa’s waterfront.

According to Paul Ralph, the city’s commissioner of development services, council has never given direction for staff to move forward with putting serious resources toward constructing a boat launch ramp as part of the rejuvenation of the Oshawa Harbour Lands. As it stands, those lands will be opened as parkland this summer, meeting the minimum requirements set out in a deal with the federal government that gave the land back to the city.

“Council chose to do the municipal public purpose…and that was to meet our minimum obligations. Council has not given direction beyond that,” Ralph said. “If council wants to be clear to staff to deliver a boat launch and deliver that sooner than later, if possible, than that direction should come from council to staff.”

Ladd had strong words for councillors who he accused of not doing much but passing “a great deal of wind” when it came to the boat launch issue.

“Even today, newcomers who have moved to Oshawa are shocked and surprised that there is nowhere within the city limits of Oshawa, that if you have a recreational boat, you can access to or from Lake Ontario. How shameful,” he said.

Ladd noted that he had recently visited the previous boat launch area alongside Mayor John Henry, and noted that much of the previous material and structure appears in tact.

“That being the case, we should have money to be able to go in there,” said Councillor Doug Sanders. “We’ve been dragging our feet…if we have an existing boat launch that is usable, we should be able to move faster.”

On the table during discussion was a report from staff outlining the background of the Harbour Lands and the relevant information for a boat launch, there was no recommendation to move forward with installing such access.

Councillor Nester Pidwerbecki moved to have staff prepare such a report, and look at the city moving “beyond minimum obligations” at the waterfront. The staff report notes that funds be set aside for any study to look at the possibility of dredging portions of the harbour in 2019.

“We’re looking at again delaying for almost another year when we may have a solution to our problem,” he says. “I would like to see what we can do in house to move this on a little quicker.”

However, when the time came to make a further motion to direct staff to really look into developing a boat launch, the councillors remained silent. Councillor Sanders appeared to be trying to make such a motion but was cut off by Councillor John Aker, the chair of the committee to vote on the main motion, which was then approved.