By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express
A new plan to help attract development and revitalize the Wentworth Street West corridor is one step closer to reality following a public meeting that saw no residents speak out with concerns.
“I think south Oshawa will be very happy,” said Councillor Amy McQuaid-England. “I think this is a good step forward for the area. It’s an area we’ve been talking about for a very long time.”
The new community improvement plan (CIP) for the Wentworth Street West corridor was on the agenda at a recent joint meeting of the Development Services and Finance committee on March 26, with no members of public approaching the mic to speak.
“No one has come forward to express any concerns, no one has come forward in opposition, so I believe this should go directly to council,” said Councillor John Aker during the meeting.
The proposed plan, which will go to council during its regular meeting on April 9 for final approval comes with a $30,000 budget requirement and offers a trio of different grant and loan opportunities to potential developers and businesses, all of which aim to make development in the area more attractive. In recent years, a surge in development has seen construction booming in the city’s north end. However, for the most part, development in Oshawa south of Highway 401, has been stagnant.
The plan includes an increased assessment grant, which gives developers a reduction on their property taxes for a specified period of time. For example, recently approved for the redevelopment of the Genosha Hotel, the owners receive tax breaks for their first 10 years following the project’s completion, the discount offered on a sliding scale as the years progress.
Also offered under the proposed plan are facade and accessibility improvement grants, which can cover up to 50 per cent of the costs, or $10,000, for improving storefronts.
The final portion of the plan is known as an economic stimulus program and could be used to “assist property owners with the financing of leasehold improvements and associated enhancements for non-residential uses,” the staff report reads. Meaning, the program could provide dollars to specific types of businesses that are looking to develop in the south end, such as a clinic or a bank, something people have long-complained is lacking in the south end. There is no financial institution located south of Highway 401.
The proposed area is divided into five blocks, all located south of Wentworth Street. Blocks 1, 2, 3 and 5 are land already developed with commercial uses and would be eligible for the facade improvement grants and the economic stimulus package, while Area 4, includes vacant land at 501 Wentworth Street West and developers could be eligible for the increased assessment grant.