With change in the air the business community came out to hear what newly minted Mayor John Henry and his council plan for the future. The Greater Oshawa Chamber of Commerce Annual Mayor’s State-of-the-City address was attended by over 300 business leaders. Sponsored by BMO Bank of Montreal for the 19th consecutive year, the luncheon was hosted at Tosca Banquet Hall. Chamber President Cris Douglas noted this was the largest Mayor’s luncheon on record.
“Oshawa is on the threshold of great things!” – Mayor John Henry
A lifelong resident of Oshawa and long time volunteer Mayor Henry graduated from McLaughlin Collegiate and Durham College. He has a vested interest in the future development, prosperity and quality of life for Oshawa residents, keeping a close eye on fiscal responsibility and the city’s historical past. First elected in 2006 as Regional Councillor for Ward 5, he is serving his first term as Mayor of Oshawa, winning the hotly contested mayoralty race.
Mayor Henry started off his address by introducing and praising Oshawa’s newly elected councillors, which includes many fresh faces. He noted how immediately following the October 25 election and prior to being sworn in on December 6, 2010 the Council team attended orientation sessions and meetings to familiarize themselves and get prepared for the future. Henry also took a moment to introduce the City staff team, thanking them and praising them for their dedication.
“Oshawa is on the threshold of great things,” stated Mayor Henry adding a combination of factors, ranging from progress at the waterfront, massive growth in the education sector, to becoming a health-care leader thanks to the LHEARN program, a partnership between Lakeridge Health, UOIT and Queens University are making Oshawa a place people want to live, work, invest and study.
Henry touched on the recovery of the auto sector and the continuing downtown revitalization as key economic drivers, and once again spoke out against the 407 stopping at Simcoe Street, remaining firm that anything other than a full extension to the 35/115 is unacceptable. Henry complimented staff and council for spearheading the ‘Ramp It Up’ campaign and says Queen’s Park has to recognize the amount of money that the GTA is losing because of road issues.
He boasted the fact there are more than 1,000 students at UOIT’s downtown campus now – a number that’s expected to grow to 5,500 within the next 10 years. He also said development is booming, including plans for a marina at the waterfront, a $7-million investment at the Oshawa VIA Rail station and a new GO train station to be built in Oshawa.
Henry is Oshawa Proud and he feels the energy in the air and knows it will draw people and business to the city. He told business leaders that now is the time to invest. “There isn’t a week goes by that I don’t have somebody in my office coming in to talk about something that they want to do, because they know that, this is the right time to be here. Quite frankly, if you come six months from now, I think you’re going to miss the boat.”
It’s an incredibly exciting time for Oshawa and he assured the business audience the new council intends to be more accountable and transparent “We are applying private sector business philosophies to a publicly run corporation – I think you see that in the tone of our council meetings,” Henry stated adding that they’re using business techniques to plot a plan for the city. He outlined how Council and City staff took all the various campaign promises, mapped them out on a spreadsheet and created a “vision statement” that will help guide the City’s strategic financial planning.
The Chamber gave the Mayor’s message its stamp of approval. “What a difference a year makes,” says Chamber President Cris Douglas “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 university and college. Now we stand to benefit from those efforts.”