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Downtown holiday lighting plan axed by council

By Courtney Bachar/The Oshawa Express/LJI Reporter

The former Downtown Oshawa BIA’s vision for holiday lighting in the city’s downtown has been cancelled.

Despite Oshawa Councillor John Gray stating the project would bring beautification and create excitement in the downtown, council voted Monday to axe the idea.

“I think it’s a beautiful vision for the downtown,” says Gray. “Adding lighting creates a little bit of excitement.”

He says council could still be flexible with the original plan to make it work.

“Let’s not slam the door on the initiative,” Gray adds.

However, Councillor Jane Hurst, who brought the motion forward, says no matter how well intentioned the project was, it would require a lot of electrical supply in order to facilitate it, adding it wouldn’t be a “wise expenditure of money.”

The Downtown Oshawa BIA was dissolved by council in January 2021, and as a result, the city acquired all of the organization’s assets.

According to a city report, the BIA had a planned initiative called the Downtown Oshawa Winter Festival of Lights, a five-phase plan designed to “boost tourism through marketing and promotion of the downtown.”

The final phase was originally scheduled to be completed in 2024 to coincide with the city’s 100th anniversary.

However, the report highlighted the fact the city would be purchasing these items with very little information, except for the specs outlined on the invoice.

“It appears city staff have reached out to the supplier but we have no particulars about the quality or even if this lighting meets CSA (Canadian Standards Association) standards,” Hurst adds.

Furthermore, the report notes that at this time, with the city unsure as to what in-person events will be offered in the future, it’s unknown how the lights could be used.

The report states the BIA had made a payment to a company in China of approximately $26,000 as a deposit for the decorative lighting, which would total approximately $76,000 to $86,000.

Since council voted to cancel the program, including the order for the lighting, the city will lose the deposit plus a $5,000 penalty for cancelling the order.

Updated April 1, 2021