A number of projects will be moving forward next year as council has approved the capital portion of the city’s 2021 budget.
Building repairs and upgrades, park redevelopments, and new vehicle acquisitions were hot button topics during the hours-long discussion of council’s first budget deliberation meeting.
Repairs and upgrades to roads, sidewalks, street lights and traffic lights will also be conducted across the city.
In total, the city’s capital budget comes in at $33.59 million.
In terms of new vehicles and equipment, the city will be acquiring three new ice resurfacers, in which Councillor Rosemary McConkey questioned why all three needed to be replaced at once. While the life cycle of these vehicles is about 10 years, McConkey notes two of them are only eight years old, adding a staggered approach to acquiring new vehicles would be better.
“Having three replaced all at once will put pressure on another council’s budget year down the road,” she says.
However, according to city staff, two of the vehicles have multiple issues, which would cost more in the end to fix rather than to replace.
“We go through a whole process of identifying total cost to upkeep equipment,” says city staff. “If it’s on the list, it’s costing us too much or there are safety issues related to the units.”
A number of other vehicles will be added to the city’s fleet as part of a scheduled replacement program, including a couple of Chevrolet Silverado trucks, two vacuum sweepers, three front mowers, and a pumper, to name a few.
A new Hazmat vehicle will be added to Fire Hall 1 to provide Oshawa Fire Services with a fully operational rapid response vehicle, as well as a new vehicle for the assistant deputy chief.
Phase 3 of the city’s downtown streetscape redevelopment program is also moving forward, which includes the widening of sidewalks on the north side of King Street West from Simcoe to Prince Streets, “to enhance pedestrian amenities and increase accessibility.”
Parks to see improvements this year include Raglan Park, Kingside Park, Crimson Court Park, Deer Valley Park, Conant Park, and Sunnyside Park.
Some of the redevelopment in these parks include the replacement of playground equipment, playground resurfacing, the replacement of existing site furnishings, new park pathways, a parking lot and the addition of tree plantings and naturalization areas.
As part of the city’s capital budget, council also endorsed a number of anchor and partnership grant requests to community organizations.
The city’s Anchor and Partnership Grant programs are part of council’s commitment to work with Oshawa-based, not-for-profit volunteer community organizations that provide beneficial programs and services to the community.
Organizations receiving anchor grants this year include Boys and Girls Club of Durham, Friends of Second Marsh, Motor City Car Club, Oshawa Children’s Community Fair, Oshawa Folk Arts Council,
Oshawa Rotary Ribfest, Oshawa Sports Hall of Fame, and Santa’s Parade of Lights.
Council also approved partnership grant requests for Hearth Place, Bawaajiigewin Aboriginal Community Circle, and Durham Alliance.
However, there were a number of organizations that did not receive funding grants in next year’s budget, including Canadian Automotive Museum, Feed the Need in Durham, Oshawa Art Association, Oshawa Firefit, Royal Canadian Legion Branch and the Charles H. Best Diabetes Centre.
Council’s next budget deliberation meeting is on Friday, Dec. 4 when council will continue with the 2021 operating budget.
According to city staff, with the pandemic came several unexpected costs to the city, and as a result, council is looking at a 2.39 per cent tax levy increase for 2021.
According to Commissioner of Finance Stephanie Sinnott, this means a $47.88 increase to the city portion of the property taxes for a property assessed at $356,000 – the average assessment by the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation.
Final approval of the 2021 budget is expected on Friday, Dec. 11.
Courtney Bachar, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Oshawa Express