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Good signs for the downtown

Things are starting to turn the corner for Oshawa’s downtown, and just around the bend are some major developments and efforts to make the streets more appealing and walkable.

The Genosha Hotel redevelopment project is like a broken record in the city of Oshawa, spinning and scratching out the same tune for years. New developer comes, new developer shows ambitious plans, a bright-eyed council stamps the approval (along with generous incentives), then things fall apart.

Well, we’ve passed the first three stages of that four step cycle, but it looks like that final fateful step may just be avoided this time around.

Council and staff remain ambitious for the old hotels development as the process moves through the “typical” process of obtaining the complicated building permit for work at the aging historic site.

Some may be holding their breath, but now isn’t the time to get frustrated or fall into previous pitfalls. Right now, it’s best for the city, and Richard Summers and company that is responsible for the project, to take their time, and get it right this time.

Along with that, council also took steps towards formulating a pilot streetscape project that could see a number of beautifying efforts for the street directly in front of the aforementioned Genosha Hotel.

It’s a small effort, and still in its infancy at the public meeting stage, but every little bit helps, and making our downtown more appealing on the eyes, is one of the many ways to pull people to the area, and have them potentially stay, whether that’s for a quick dinner, or a place to live.

And while those projects will influence the future of the downtown core, it seems that efforts underway right now are already affecting some of our cities most vulnerable.

According to the Region of Durham Health Neighbourhoods data, since February of 2016, the number of vulnerable children in downtown Oshawa (that is, children who score low on a variety of early health indicators), has declined drastically from 65 per cent to 35 per cent.

With that said, the city and the downtown organizations and businesses should be commended for their ongoing efforts to maintain our downtown core. It’s taking time, but the ship is slowly starting to turn.