By Chris Jones/The Oshawa Express
Durham regional council has voted to pay $7.9 million for a new bus depot in Oshawa.
The land is located on Thornton Road. The financing for the project comes from the project’s approved budget costs, which includes slightly less than $2.5 million in debenture financing.
The total land is 36.758 acres in size, and is north of Conlin Road, and south of Highway 407, with the front located on the west side of Thornton Road.
To date, the region has approved a budget of $8 million for the project itself. However, not every councillor was thrilled with the acquisition, with Clarington councillor Joe Neal pointing out there are eight acres of wetlands in the land the region is purchasing.
Neal believes, because of this, the region is overpaying for the land at approximately $200,000 per acre.
“The taxpayers shouldn’t be paying $200,000 plus for land you can’t use,” he says.
However, commissioner of works Susan Siopis disagreed, stating she feels the region is getting the land for a fair price, and it’s only a small portion of the land which is wetlands. But Neal once again disagreed.
“To me, eight or 10 acres is not a small portion,” he says.
Oshawa Ward 4 city and regional councillor Rick Kerr also had concerns about the wetlands, enquiring whether or not the lands could be repurposed.
What it comes down to, Kerr explains, is the region needed 30 acres, so it doesn’t matter if the extra were wetlands, the region bought it for the 30 acres, which aren’t.
“That’s what it came down to. They can do some things on [the wetlands]. They can landscape things, they can create a nice visual sight. It doesn’t have to be all business,” he says.
Kerr feels he understands where Neal was coming from, but sometimes “you have to look at the bigger picture.”
“In order to get what you need, sometimes you have to take a little more,” says Kerr, adding it is the “prime location” for the bus depot.
Kerr also notes he’s very pleased with where they’re putting the depot.
“The good news is, it’s close to the 407, it’s also between Whitby and Oshawa,” he says. “It’s in Oshawa, but it’s close enough that as they’ve got one in Pickering, sort of like Pickering-Ajax, and now we’ve got Oshawa-Whitby, and because it’s close to the 407, it’s going to be easy enough to get to Clarington, and also the northern municipalities.”
Kerr even goes so far as to say staff have come up with a “complete winner.”