By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express
A block of King Street East in Oshawa’s downtown is set to get a face lift, and one councillor hopes it could become the catalyst for bigger change.
Currently, the City of Oshawa is in the process of gathering public feedback on a trio of design options to improve a block of King Street East between Mary Street North and Ontario Street. The options range from cutting out parking along the stretch to allow for more pedestrian and patio space, or the installation of movable “bollards” to block off or open up parking spaces as needed.
For Councillor Doug Sanders, he hopes that the small stretch of downtown, which will also see new greenery, benches and planters installed, can become the launching point for further changes in the downtown core.
“The streetscape plan could be the vision throughout the whole city,” he says. “We’ve got to change what we do in the downtown because everybody just puts the blinders on and keeps going.”
Currently, through an online survey on Connect Oshawa and drop-in open houses scheduled for today (April 11), residents are able to provide their feedback on the three proposed options, those being to eliminate parking, reduce parking, or to create a flexible parking arrangement.
Option A (eliminate parking) would see the permanent removal of parking along the stretch to create space for outdoor patios or cafes in front of various businesses, as well as creating more space for festivals or gatherings in front of the Regent Theatre.
Option B (flexible parking), would use bollards to allow for temporary removal of parking by blocking off spaces in front of the Genosha Hotel and Regent Theatre during busy times. In non-busy times, the option would allow for 12 parking spaces along the stretch.
Option C (reduce parking), similar to Option B in that it would use bollards to control parking, but in this scenario, only six spots would be maintained while the parking in front of the Genosha would be permanently removed.
All options will improve greenery, litter receptacles, benches and planters.
For Sanders, the public’s input is very important.
“We want to get the public’s input on that because we believe a number of people have raised concerns about having the patios currently on the street,” Sanders says, referring to potential blind spots created by the on-street patios.
In all three of the proposed options it allows for the creation of two patio spaces along the King Street East frontage of the Genosha Hotel.
And while Sanders notes that he does have a preferred option for the plan moving forward, he said he didn’t want to bias the project by sharing his views.
“I’m not going to try and influence what they do because I think I’d rather have the public input,” he says, noting that all three options have their merits.
The councillor also notes that he has heard from some restaurant owners further down King Street who are upset the project isn’t taking place in front of their business. However, Sanders notes that the improvements are just the beginning, and if it were only up to him, things would have been different.
“I actually wanted to go from Mary Street all the way to Simcoe (Street),” he says. “This is just the start, but you’ve got to start somewhere so that people see what changes you want to make in your downtown.”
A series of drop-in public open houses are scheduled for today (April 11), in the front lobby of the La Quinta Inn and Suites (63 King Street East) between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m., 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. and finally from 5 p.m.to 7:30 p.m.