Originally, council’s reasoning for not moving ahead with a pilot project to allow for free parking downtown, in an effort to attract potential Christmas shoppers, were as thin as the snow we’ve received so far this season. Pointing to a report from 2005 and vague questions of uncertainty, council shot down the project just two short weeks ago. Councillor Amy McQuaid-England was right-on when she labelled these reasons “hooplah” and that council was overcomplicating something that could easily help the downtown.
Well, it would appear that it was only a simple change in the time that changed their minds. Previously set to be offered on a 24/7 basis, the pilot project has been approved to allow free parking on downtown streets from noon until 6 p.m. Monday to Friday between Dec. 11 and 22.
Putting aside the questions of what impact this decision will have, it’s much more important to realize that council chose to purse this project in the first place.
It’s safe to say that the downtown is slowly attempting to make a name for itself as a place to eat and play in the City of Oshawa. There’s a plethora of restaurants, art galleries, music venues and other things to do and see. However, it’s the public perception that continues to hurt our downtown.
Council’s decision to approve this project is much needed breath of fresh air for the downtown.
It shows, plain and simple, that council is making an effort.
As Councillor Doug Sanders, a tireless advocate for our downtown, puts it, this shows that council “believes and supports the downtown now and in the future.”
In the war against negative public perception, this is where one of the key battles will be won. Our council needs to start putting its weight behind the efforts that the Downtown BIA is making, and start finding creative solutions that make our downtown exciting and innovative, because once the people start to flow through the city streets, the businesses are sure to follow close behind.
With that said, it’s time for this city to take advantage of council’s decision and make the trip downtown. Whether it’s to eat, shop, see a show, or even watch the Oshawa Generals. Every single person who chooses to spend time and money in our downtown is helping to make it a better place.