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Keeping residents in the dark

The City of Oshawa is once again making it difficult for residents to know the full picture of a multi-million dollar project.

The LED street lighting conversion project, approved last year by council to the tune of over $8.4 million, is now nearly complete, but questions are still lingering from residents, and staff members are less than forthcoming with the answers.

A recent report shines holy light on the new project, claiming there have been “significant” drops in both the amount of complaints about street lights at Service Oshawa, as well as a drop in maintenance requests. However, the report offers no numbers to support these claims. The document also claims that staff have been in contact with residents over issues that have arisen and additional lights have been installed in problem areas.

However, repeated requests from The Oshawa Express to obtain any numbers to back up these claims were not returned.

An email from commissioner of community services Ron Diskey states he wants to ensure the information is accurate before it is shared. That’s fair game, but one has to wonder how these reports are being approved with information that is not readily available.

This is also not the first time staff have kept us in the dark with the LED light project. Right from the start an investigation by The Oshawa Express turned up several financing options for the project that were never shared with councillors. In fact, councillors never even viewed the full “Investment Grade Audit,” the report detailing all the facts and figures regarding the conversion, before stamping their approval.

All of this follows on the heels of the city manager’s reluctance to share any information regarding the upcoming Core Service Review report, a report that could have big ramifications throughout the city’s operations, and the city’s seeming reluctance to share just how much money they’ve spent fighting a lawsuit with the Region of Durham over transit amalgamation. The region released its figures back in March.

The trend is an unsettling one, and council needs to begin holding staff accountable. The recent report on the LED lights, which comes with $52,000 in additional costs, was clearly unfinished, yet council did not question its legitimacy.

It’s time for council to take the blinders off and start doing the job the residents of Oshawa elected them to do.