By Dave Flaherty/The Oshawa Express
The city is looking into potentially renaming a stretch of Athol Street in recognition of the Oshawa Generals.
Council had supported, in principle, the renaming of Athol Street between Centre Street South and Ritson Road South to Memorial Cup Drive.
Oshawa’s development services department will consult the public, including local property and business owners.
“We want to be able to get public input and see what their thoughts are on this,” Mayor Dan Carter said. “It’d be great to recognize not only what the Memorial Cup represents in hockey, but the community.”
However, Ward 1 city councillor Rosemary McConkey wondered what the full motivation behind the move was.
“Does this have anything to do with a bid for the Memorial Cup in Oshawa?” McConkey asked.
Ward 2 city councillor Jane Hurst said she had only heard about the news recently.
Carter said discussions had been in place for about five months.
Hurst called it “a hail mary pass” for the Memorial Cup.
“It”s interesting the CHL and Oshawa Generals are supporting this,” she said. “It seems like an attempt to curb favour for the Generals’ bid.”
Calling for the need to talk to “people who live here and work here,” Hurst said it is “disrespectful to the community” this news has never been made public before.
McConkey suggested a street honouring the Generals in a planned development by Bruce Street Developments Limited.
But Ward 3 city and regional councillor Bob Chapman argued there wouldn’t be the same impact by putting it on a side street.
He also noted the renaming would need to extend to Ritson Road because it’s the next major north-south thoroughfare.
Chapman said the city is doing its due diligence by asking the public what they want to see, and it shouldn’t be considered a negative if it helps the organization in other ways.
“This is about consulting with the public… If it assists [the Generals] in getting a Memorial Cup, which is an economic boost to the region and the city, so be it,” he says.
Ward 5 regional and city councillor Brian Nicholson agreed there is no harm in gauging the public’s response.
“If the community feels this is a step too far, the community will let us know. And we can re-evaluate,” Nicholson said. “If we don’t take the first step, and ask the community, are we doing our due diligence? I think the nay-saying is a bit premature.”
Ward 1 city and regional councillor John Neal said criticism of Carter for speaking directly to the organization and the CHL is unwarranted.
“I think our mayor is doing a good job of promoting Oshawa,” he said.
Commissioner of development services Warren Munro said if the name change takes place, the city will need to reimburse property owners.
Munro said this could cost between $5,000 to $13,500 considering $100 to $250 per address. City staff said the new name would be acceptable to local emergency services as well as the region.