Campaign underway to design landmark Oshawa sign in time for centennial celebrations


Published June 14, 2022 at 4:48 pm

An eclectic and big-thinking group of entrepreneurs have laid the groundwork; the City of Oshawa has thrown its support behind it; all that is needed now is $400,000 or so to make it happen.

The ‘it’ is a massive ‘OSHAWA’ sign the group is trying to fundraise and get built in time for Oshawa’s centennial celebrations in 2024.

Greg Milosh, a life-long Oshawa resident, the former purchasing manager at Durham College and a passionate believer in the city raising its national profile, has been working with the Oshawa Sign Committee for more than a year and believes the fundraising goal is a realistic and doable.

“It’s not chump change,” he admitted, “but we think with a city this big, this affluent, it’s not a huge amount of money.”

Toronto sign created for the 2015 Pan Am Games

Milosh and Ron Bremner, a veteran media consultant who was involved in the 1972 Summitt Series, were in the council chambers Monday making a presentation to the Community Services Committee.

They weren’t asking for money, Milosh said, just committee’s support, which they got, with the members voting 6-0 to support the campaign in principle.

Bremner said the sign project was about “civic pride,” which he described as an “intangible” feeling. “It’s an emotion. But we need a physical expression of that pride. Like wearing a sweater to a Gennies’ game.”

The sign, he said, could be a tourist magnet that touches on the uniqueness of the city, a “north star” way of “pointing us to the future.”

Milosh pointed to the sign Toronto built for the 2015 Pan Am Games as an example of what the group would like to see, though that sign, complete with eight-foot letters, cost about $700,000. “We think we can get it done for $400,000, $450,000 tops.”

Welcome sign in Brisbane, Australia

Milosh emphasized that the group does not want just block letters: the sign must have some high tech elements and be adaptable to at least change colours. He also hopes to incorporate some indigenous history into the design to reflect the city’s importance before colonial days.

“We also want it to stand the test of time.”

The committee will be looking to the public as well as the City to help with the design, while Oshawa will have the final say on what city-owned land the sign will take up residence upon.

One such spot is the property on the north-east corner of Simcoe and Bond, just south of the downtown Holiday Inn Express.

The property, which once hosted a farmers’ market and would need to be re-mediated, would be ideal, says Milosh. “That would be an excellent spot. It has to be in a high traffic area.”

As the brochure from the Oshawa Sign Campaign states, the proposed sign is an “opportunity” for individuals and businesses to show their support for a “landmark” image for Oshawa and for a “21st century social contract” based on community, fairness, responsibility, and solidarity.

“An Oshawa sign will be a striking symbol of the collective commitment of stakeholders to build on Oshawa’s strengths and embrace the transformative future that lies ahead, benefitting residents, enterprises, associations, organizations and businesses alike.”

Fundraising has not yet begun but now can get underway in earnest, noted Milosh.

“We needed council’s endorsement first. Without their support this would be dead in the water.”

Councillor Rick Kerr, who chairs the Community Services Committee, said Monday’s 6-0 vote means the endorsement from full council next week is a sure thing – “this item is going to pass at council” – and that the work to get the project off the ground is just getting started.

“Staff will look at this and help and it will go before several of our committees,” he said, adding that it will become a budget item for the next term of council in the fall. “They have to flesh out a lot of details, but the spirit is willing to bring this idea together.”

“I anticipate we’re going to make this happen.”

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