This is my biggest area of goals and visioning - and it is, perhaps arguably, the most important area of focus for the advancement of Oshawa as you will read in my closing comments.
Our Downtown can be looked at in the following areas (not in order of priority):
2. ACE Hub
4. Change in office tower Development Charge levy
5. GO/Metrolinx completion
6. Downtown walk-in grocery store (or more)
8. Social Services
There are 10 residential development projects either completed, under construction, in the development approval stage, or in the planning stage. When all of these are complete, there will be between 6,900 and 7,400 new residents Downtown. They will all need food, clothing, entertainment - and places of work.
The rate of development of these projects will be, in part, determined by the advancement of the other 5 areas.
This is my concept for "branding" our Downtown. ACE stands for Arts, Culture, and Entertainment. Our Downtown can't compete with the Oshawa Centre for shopping, but the Oshawa Centre does not have ACE. ACE is what makes a Downtown lifestyle more attractive to locate as a resident - quality of life. The creation of Gallery 67 and the support and encouragement of a summer season of Dancyn Productions ventures are two solid additions to the ACE concept. There will be more. As the "feet-on-the-street" numbers go up, so will the number of ACE venues.
One of the biggest inhibitors to growth in our Downtown. I have worked with Staff to put money in this year's budget for a far-reaching consultant's study on parking venues and alternatives for our entire Downtown bearing in mind the other listed areas.
Change in office tower Development Charge levies
In Toronto, their office tower Development Charges are based on the footprint of the proposed building only. In Durham Region, the Development Charges are based on the footprint of the proposed building and are the same for every floor thereafter. This is a strong reason why Durham Region does not have a supply of office towers. If we are to encourage the supply of places of work for those 6,900 to 7,400 new residents - and to attract them here in the first place to help fill those planned residential units with a great lifestyle - then we need the parking and method of collecting Development Charges amended to suit this focus of development.
Slated for completion in 2024, in the meantime we will see large re-development of the areas around the GO station - three to four story multi-residential units (these are over and above the 10 projects I spoke about earlier) where young workers can live, shop, and play in Downtown Oshawa even if they take the GO train into Toronto to work. The average one-bedroom apartment in Toronto is $1980/mth. In Oshawa that number is $1080. That's a lot of GO train money - and more besides to spend and enjoy in our Downtown with its ACE Hub.
Downtown walk-in grocery store(s)
To promote a healthy walking lifestyle, we will need a neighbourhood grocery store, and more. My niece lives in Hoboken, New Jersey, and takes the ferry across the Hudson to work in New York. Downtown Hoboken is a mile square and has 50,000 residents who shop at ground-floor commercial with residential above - and a minimum of 4 grocery stores none of which are over 7,000 sq. ft. We don't need a "supermarket" of 40,000 sq. ft. in our Downtown. It will take too much space, will promote vehicle use to access it from a distance, and would not cater to the active, healthy, walking lifestyle which residents of a downtown enjoy. A lot fewer cars will be the norm. This will also affect our parking projections.
There must be a variety of housing types including the assurance of both current accessible and affordable units and those which may be contained in some new residential developments. The downtown will require workers/employees/business owners of all financial levels, so there must be housing units to suit. As for the current aging housing stock, there must be ongoing safety audits, fire and building inspections, and free smoke alarm programs and inspections. There is also a need to further develop transitional housing and services for those in precarious situations in life. The Keepers Project is one such service. It involves free outdoor locker storage for the homeless to securely store their belongings while searching for work and sustenance.
It will be a necessary focus to successfully complete the construction of the new St. Vincent's Kitchen in its new location. This organization provides essential daily meals for those of our fellow citizens in difficult stages in life. With the re-location of several Regional Social Service departments to the Midtown Mall location, the level of service has improved significantly for those living in the downtown area: walking distance instead of a bus ride elsewhere and on a bus route for those living elsewhere.
Are the following important? The expansion of Lakeridge Health, the retention of General Motors, and the continued growth and development of our academic economy: Durham College, UOIT, and Trent University amongst other current economic aspects? Absolutely, but I'm envisioning new/additional areas of growth and development to further expand the diversity of Oshawa's economy. I believe the 8 areas I listed and elaborated on clearly communicate that.