By Dave Flaherty/The Oshawa Express
The future of the south field of the Oshawa Executive Airport may be starting to piece together.
At the latest meeting of the city’s development services committee, members received the sprawling 300-plus page report which has been in development for a number of years.
The fields in question have been an issue of debate for some time.
Back in 1987, it was first determined the lands would be best used for recreational purposes and sports field.
Today, the Ontario Regiment Museum and a soccer field call the space home, along with the 420 Wing Club, Gemini Gymnastics, and a community garden.
In 2008, when city council approved the 2008-2012 Airport Business Plan, it was noted the south field was no longer required for the airport’s purposes.
However, it was not until the approval of the 2015-2019 version of the Airport’s business plan that the development of the south field became a key priority.
The master plan was originally approved by council in November 2016, and nearly three years later, is moving towards the stage of final approval.
The report included a total of 17 recommendations in regards to the future of the south field.
The first is that council keep the “status quo” land use for the fields as “heritage, recreation and public use.”
Committee members supported establishing a heritage conservation district in the south field, which would include Airmen’s Park, a building owned by the 420 Wing, the former canteen, and the former Stores building.
It’s also been recommended to council the city designate the former Stores building as a “property of cultural value or interest.”
Another recommendation to council is the city partner with the Ontario Regiment Museum to restore the former canteen building as an artifact.
According to commissioner of development services Warren Munro, the canteen building has fallen into state of deterioration.
City staff estimate it would cost approximately $255,000 to restore the building and if so, there would be no public access.
If approved, the plan would also see city staff working with the Town of Whitby, airport officials and the museum to relocate the Camp X building to the south field.
It is resolved that this would be done at no cost to the City of Oshawa.
Other recommendations include negotiating a new license agreement with the Ontario Regiment Museum, as well as discussions regarding any potential expansion of that facility.
Jeremy Blowers, executive director of the museum, spoke highly of the master plan itself.
He acknowledged the need for a new agreement with the city, as the current one was signed more than 15 years ago.
“We have changed and we have grown, and we’d like the opportunity to continue to grow with the City of Oshawa,” Blowers said.
Blowers said the museum has welcomed 15,000 visitors in 2019, fives times more than in 2012.
About 37 per cent of those visitors are children and youth, he added.
Staff have recommended the city reach out to local organization We Grow Food to potentially adopt the community garden located on the south field.
If that falls through, the city would accept no risk or liability of the garden’s use, and the ability to use the land can be removed at any time.
Any resident wanting to use the community garden would be required to obtain a proper licence through the city.
The final recommendation is for city staff to review the existing land lease between Oshawa and NAV Canada, and potential revisions to the scope of NAV Canada’s use of the south field.