For the second time in as many weeks, the Oshawa council chambers were filled with the angry shouts of residents.
Both times, councillors were berated after approving the 56 townhouse development proposed by SO Developments at the corner of Phillip Murray Avenue and Park Road South, first at the committee level, then as the final vote fell at council.
The approval came despite resident concerns about privacy loss, increased traffic and a lack of available resources in the form of schools, banks, etc. However, while council gave the final say, the real decision was made once General Motors, an original detractor of the project, gave the okay once all of their issues were resolved. At that point, the developer had it in the bag.
The debate on the proposal that took place inside the council chamber was a battle of fact and opinion. However, at times the two were muddled together.
Councillor Nester Pidwerbecki, who recently called out local media for spreading questionable information about the debate on access to the Oshawa pier, despite the info he was referring to being in the report before him, spread a bit of misinformation of his own during the meeting.
Claiming the “fact” that the city stood no chance if they appeal the SO proposal to the provincial lands tribunal was simply untrue. Especially when the commissioner came back with the fact that the city has no experience with the new tribunal process which was launched by the province at the start of April.
However, Councillor Pidwerbecki was right in the fact that the land was a perfect spot for intensification, and sooner or later, something was going to be built there. That fact was, and probably still remains, a hard one for residents to swallow.
With that said, it’s unfortunate that the city and residents couldn’t come to some kind of compromise.
If the development indeed has to happen, why not ensure that the eventual townhouses that are built are accessible to everyone. Why not have a percentage of the units constructed be affordable housing? Councillors are very much aware of the crisis ongoing in the Region of Durham and the province when it comes to access to affordable housing. It may not change the fact that the residents have to deal with new neighbours, but it may help knowing that the person moving in is getting a helping hand and really needs it.
Now, as the second proposal in this conundrum, that being the larger proposal south of Renaissance Drive, directly on Lake Ontario, goes toward the Ontario Municipal Board, let’s hope that council can keep in mind to separate fact from speculation.