Re-elect Richard Kerr



My Goals and Visions for Oshawa's Future

Downtown

Business Downtown, in Ward 4, and in Oshawa Generally

Our Downtown

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):

1. "Feet-on-the-street"
2. ACE Hub
3. Parking
4. Michael Starr Trail Upgrade
5. GO/Metrolinx completion
6. Downtown walk-in grocery store (or more)
7. Housing
8. Social Services

"Feet-on-the-street"


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 7 areas.

ACE Hub


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 opening of the Biltmore Theatre and the development of the planned Music Hall entertainment complex are/will be 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 and vice versa. These venues help drive the many and varied restaurant businesses in our downtown. Both of these aspects are key to bringing customers and new businesses downtown. The ACE Hub is what Downtown Oshawa should be known for. It is and will be the "draw" of the future and must be promoted and communicated as such on an integrated basis.

Parking


One of the biggest inhibitors to growth in our Downtown. I have worked with Staff to suggest ways to add additional parking venues and alternatives for our entire Downtown, bearing in mind the other listed areas. One example: Create a P3 (Public, Private Partnership) parking garage on the Celina/Athol Lot where not only would the City maintain its number of parking spaces and resultant revenue on the ground floor level but also a second level of public parking and revenue. The developer would get the land at no cost but would pay the cost of building the needed parking structure - instead of the taxpayer. The developer could then build the planned residential building now with the required parking spaces, the City would receive property tax revenue where there was none before from that City parking property and would receive the requisite property taxes from the new residential building, and the downtown businesses would benefit from increased business from the new residents and those new customers who would now have ample places to park in our downtown.

Revamp and Improve the Michael Starr Trail (MST)


First: The MST will be torn up in the section from downtown south due to increasing the size of the water and sewer mains underneath it. This will be for the increasing number of residents and buildings now and in the future in that whole area. This will take 2 years.
Second: When the infrastructure work has been completed, pave the entire MST - not just the rebuilt section - all the way up to its now-unpaved terminus at Mary Street north of Beatrice, so it can be plowed and used in the winter (see below as to why).


Third: Light the entire MST not with streetlights - which would shed light into residents' backyards - but with bollard-style lighting which will light up only the MST and its shoulder areas. This will allow winter time commuters for the upcoming GO station at First Avenue to have a safe trip to work and home any time of day.
Fourth: Use the MST as the main e-Scooter route for commuters to the GO Station. No more waiting for buses. Book and pay for an e-Scooter via their phone app and then travel when YOUR schedule wants safe, environmentally-friendly transportation. Fifth: The MST will then be the main Active Transportation route in Oshawa for walking, cycling, and e-Scooters for work or leisure and for all ages - safely.

GO/Metrolinx completion


Slated for completion in 2026 now that the official funding announcement is finally in place, in the meantime we will see large re-development of the areas around the GO stations and especially around the First Avenue stop. There will be three to four story multi-residential units (these are over and above the 10 projects I spoke about earlier) and a potential mega-project right at the station area. All of this will enable young workers to 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 $2800/mth. In Oshawa that number is $1800. That's a lot of GO train money - and more besides to spend and enjoy in our Downtown with its ACE Hub. The Simcoe/401 interchange redesign/rebuild is slated to begin in 2023. The Simcoe/Farewell/Bloor interchange to begin in 2024. The Gibb/Olive connection and widening to handle GO commuters will be completed prior to the GO opening. There will be a south-side Gibb Multi-Use Path (MUP) in place as part of the Gibb/Olive route from Thornton Road to Ritson Road for Active Transportation connections. The whole area from Downtown to the GO will revitalize with lots of affordable residential units.

Downtown walk-in grocery store(s)


To promote a healthy walking lifestyle, we now have a neighbourhood grocery store at Richmond and Centre Streets. More will be coming. 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.

Housing


There must be a variety of housing types from Downtown to the GO station 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 (micro-homes) 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. The Region recently purchased the old Ritson Public School at Ritson and Olive and this site will be for upwards of 400 affordable units. The Region is on track to see 1,000 new, affordable units Region-wide in place or under design and construction by 2024.

Social Services


It was a necessary focus to successfully complete the construction of the new St. Vincent's Kitchen in its new location at 227 Simcoe South at Hemlock. Having this needed service in the middle of our Downtown was not the best 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 as it is on a major transit route for much better access. For those living Downtown, it is walking distance instead of a bus ride elsewhere (it used to be on Wentworth in the far southwest of Oshawa). The new Refuge will house at-risk youth in its Simcoe/Olive location. The Mission United multiple-service hub provides much-needed services - including medical and related - to nearly 600 of our citizens in need.

Closing comments


Are the following important? The expansion of Lakeridge Health, the come-back and 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.

Business Downtown, in Ward 4, and in Oshawa Generally

I sit on the Planning and Economic Development Committee at the Region.
COVID response programming from the Planning and Economic Development Staff at the Region, along with the Durham Economic Task Force, and the Mayor's Task Force on Economic Recovery initiatives include but are not limited to:

•Downtowns of Durham Project: Includes a website www.downtownsofdurham.ca which offers business listings, blog stories about downtowns and businesses, and a spaces section about office space for rent. We also have produced a ton of social media promotion in relation to this ongoing project. This continues to evolve as we promote downtowns in Durham Region.
•Digital Main Street. We worked with partners to bring and promote the DMS program to downtown and main street areas in Durham Region. This program supports bricks and mortar businesses to get online, invest in social media, and get hands on mentorship and support from business advisors. It also includes a funding component in some cases.
•Shop Durham Region Marketplace. A unified ecommerce platform was launched that supports businesses getting on ecommerce for free. Multiple businesses can be shopped from in one transaction.
•Ritual One – this program is no longer in place but ran for 2020 and most of 2021. It offered a free platform for restaurants to use to facilitate online orders through their social media accounts. NO fees were collected as part of the program.
•Canatrace Contact Tracing – a free platform that was mobile based that allowed businesses to gather data from their patrons safely, touchless, and securely, protecting customer data. Canatrace is a local business and we assisted with promoting this program across Durham Region.
•Webinars – we produced, promoted, and hosted multiple webinars, through the Durham Business Recovery Series. Events were specifically for business owners and included topics such as vaccines, selling online, returning to the office, and relief programs. https://www.eventbrite.ca/o/durham-business-recovery-series-30196836496
•We also produced the Covid response web portal at www.investdurham.ca/covidresponse which covered all the info from all levels of government collated in one places that businesses in Durham needed to know. Funding, where to find PPE, where to buy local food, all of our recovery events and programs, and more.
Please let me know if you’d like any further information on any of these programs or other projects which were developed by Planning and Economic Development Staff at the Region.

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