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Harbour Road extension at stalemate

Oshawa city council chose not to directly respond to a request from the Oshawa Port Authority for an answer on the future of the proposed Harbour Road extension.

By Dave Flaherty/The Oshawa Express

The Oshawa Port Authority has demanded a response from the city on a potential agreement to extend Harbour Road.

Earlier this month, the port brought an amended project proposal to the city’s development services committee.

Instead of asking for a full-serviced road with costs to be split by both parties, the port is proposing a driveway be built to extend Harbour Road.

The port has also promised to protect a 120-metre buffer of land near the Second Marsh by limiting uses, restricting public access and planting indigenous species in the area.

Additionally, an offer has been made to extend the current land use, development, and municipal services agreement by 30 years.

Originally, the development services committee referred the proposal to council for approval.

But the next day, Transport Canada announced its intentions to amalgamate the port authorities of Oshawa and Hamilton.

In response, council tabled the amended proposal and asked the port to cease the extension until the amalgamation process is complete.

The city has also requested Minister of Transport Marc Garneau to intervene if needed.

In separate letters dated Feb. 12 and Feb. 19, port CEO and harbourmaster Donna Taylor reaffirmed the port’s intentions to extend Harbour Road.

“This road access is integral to the Port of Oshawa’s continued growth and economic viability to successfully broaden our multi-modal transportation options,” Taylor wrote.

At its Feb. 19 meeting, council voted to receive Taylor’s letters for information and ask the port to cease industrial land uses on the west wharf of the Oshawa Harbour.

Commissioner of development services Paul Ralph said receiving the letter for information was a “clear response” back to the port authority.

Ward 3 regional councillor Bob Chapman said demanding an answer within two days was “not good business or co-operation.”

“The Port Authority will understand that our position is still asking for the stay [of the road extension],” Chapman said.

The port originally triggered a 1976 agreement binding the city to build a fully-serviced extension of Harbour Road on Sept. 26, 2018.

Ward 5 city councillor John Gray worried that by simply receiving the letter, the city would be on the line to spend money on a road.

“I don’t want to do a road. That is $1.4 million it is going to cost the city,” Gray said. “I’m quite content with a driveway and not spending $1.4 million.”

Ralph explained there are “lots of moving parts” to the situation, and if Garneau steps in, it will give the city some “breathing space.”

Ward 5 regional councillor Brian Nicholson said he doesn’t believe the port can move forward on the project regardless.

“I don’t think the port authority has the money to pay their share. I’m not even sure the port authority is going to be an entity in 30 to 60 days,” Nicholson said.

To him, the city was sending a clear message to the OPA.

“We’ll make our decisions on our own time. It’s council that speaks on behalf of the people of Oshawa, not the port authority,” he said.