Oshawa Mayor John Henry kept a firm focus on positive developments in the past year in his annual address to the Greater Oshawa Chamber of Commerce. The event, hosted by BMO Bank of Montreal for the 20th consecutive year, was held February 24 at the Tosca Banquet Hall. After one full year in office Mayor Henry remains “Oshawa Proud” summarizing his past year as “365 fantastic days”.
In the midst of the City budget process, he told business owners that council would bring in the lowest tax increase in Durham and said the budget’s message is “Oshawa is open for business.”
In terms of positive economic signs, he mentioned a recent meeting with a Chinese company interested in the City. Pointing out that company is not considered a large company in China, but its 200,000 employees outnumber the population of Oshawa. “They came to Oshawa because they heard about our port and that’s a great news story because they are looking at opportunities and we are now on the world’s stage,” said Mayor Henry. In the last four months the Region of Durham has hosted three delegations from China, one from Vietnam and one from Ireland, he added.
Mayor Henry touched on the positive changes in the downtown. “The demographics of our downtown have shifted and I’m happy to say the City of Oshawa has parking problems,” he said. “A lot of mayors would not be happy about that, but I am because for the first time in a long time our downtown is alive.”
Mayor Henry noted the Highway 407 East Extension project continues to move forward and that the successful bidder is expected to be announced in early 2012 with preparation work for Phase 1 construction through to Harmony Road to begin later this year. He thanked local representatives in various levels of government and the Greater Oshawa Chamber of Commerce for coming together on the issue of Hwy. 407 after the Province considered ending the toll road extension at Simcoe Street instead of the originally planned Hwy. 35/115. The Province reversed course and announced the Phase 1 extension to Harmony Road.
Major track improvements are continuing to VIA Rail’s Montreal-Ottawa-Toronto line to improve and provide faster passenger service. The project which began in 2009 is expected to be completed in 2012 and includes a new station for Oshawa currently under construction.
With the proposed GO Train Service Expansion project recommending extended hours for the Lakeshore East corridor between Oshawa and Bowmanville and the potential for two new GO stations in Oshawa; Metrolinx is building a new GO Bus Maintenance & Storage Facility on Thornton Road South to support the planned expansion. Currently under construction the facility is expected to be operational by late 2012 and will help improve operational efficiencies and meet expansion requirements.
The Chamber gave the Mayor’s message its stamp of approval. “What a difference a year makes,” says Chamber President Geoff Michie, “with one year under its belt we’re hearing and feeling a resurgence in the City and very positive news on all fronts. The Chamber is a proactive organization that works on behalf of the business community and with the City of Oshawa and organizations like our universities and college. We now stand to benefit from those efforts.”