By Dave Flaherty/The Oshawa Express
It was nothing but good news as Oshawa Mayor John Henry delivered his state of the city address to approximately 200 of Durham Region’s business owners and citizens on Feb. 21.
Henry spoke at length during the annual Mayor’s Luncheon, hosted by the Greater Oshawa Chamber of Commerce at the Jubilee Pavillion.
According to Henry, Oshawa is in the midst of an economic boom, pointing to the $614 million in building permits handed out last year, the most in the city’s history.
He also highlighted what he called “unprecedented growth”, stating the city’s development services department is currently tracking more than 50 projects representing more than $4 million of investment and 40,000 associated jobs.
In addition, Oshawa is in the vicinity of some of the largest provincial and federal projects, including the Highway 407 expansion and the Lakeshore East line extensions, the Darlington Nuclear Generating Station refurbishment and the Port Hope Area Initiative, the largest environmental cleanup effort in Canadian history.
However, for Henry, the success begins in Oshawa’s city center.
“After the past decade of investment, downtown Oshawa is once again a destination,” he says, adding that the downtown core is a mix of businesses, education, culture, and tourism.
Henry points to Atria’s new apartment buildings and the redevelopment of the former Genosha Hotel as some of the new developments in downtown Oshawa.
Speaking on the latter, he admits while it’s been a long process, quipping, “it could be a made-for-TV movie,” Henry says council “is committed to seeing it completed.”
Looking to the future, the continuation of the city’s Downtown Streetscape Design Vision will “guide development within the public areas of downtown.”
With a $500 million investment from General Motors at the Oshawa assembly plant and RioCan’s plans for a shopping centre on the former Windfield Farm lands, Henry believes the corporate world is well aware of Oshawa’s bright future as well.
Despite his optimism, the head of city council says challenges remain.
“The federal and provincial governments need to step up and provide appropriate funding to help those in need,” Henry states, calling on senior levels of government to provide more funding to local municipalities to address issues such affordable housing and the current opioid crisis.
Finally, he wants the Ministry of Transportation to release developable lands surrounding HIghway 407 in Durham Region as soon as possible.
“This is the last piece of employable lands in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area,” he says.