Oshawa building on “century of success,” business leaders told at centennial state of the city address

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Published February 16, 2024 at 9:48 pm

Drone shot of the Strumbellas closing out last year's Convergence music and art festival

Oshawa Mayor Dan Carter’s annual state-of-the-city address at the Greater Oshawa Chamber of Commerce Mayor’s Luncheon usually touches on a year of successes, but with the City celebrating its centennial in 2024, the Mayor went for the big picture.

From the birth of General Motors of Canada and the rise of the city as the automotive capital of Canada to its current status as a technology hub, with two universities and a college leading the charge, Oshawa has transformed itself over the past century.

Carter noted that some of the greatest milestones in Canadian history have come from Oshawa thanks to its leaders, who “through their curiosity, innovation and partnerships have propelled the City forward over the last century.”

From GM Canada founder and automotive pioneer Col. Sam McLaughlin to Gary Polonsky, the ‘tiny, perfect college president,’ who was the driving force in the creation of Ontario Tech University, Oshawa has enoyed dynamic leaders who helped “turn the impossible to possible,” Carter said.

“We don’t run from complex issues, we embrace those complex issues.”

Oshawa Mayor Dan Carter

Carter noted these leaders have strengthened Oshawa’s resiliency and built a solid foundation for its success today as a vibrant and diverse city, home to three globally recognized post-secondary institutions that have attracted thousands of international students, who know that “this is a place that will truly lift them up.”

As much as he touched on past successes, the mayor also cited recent innovations driving the economy, including Project Arrow, Canada’s first zero emission concept electric vehicle; the da Vinci Surgical System, a minimally-invasive robot-assisted surgical program at Lakeridge Health; and the smartARM, the world’s first bionic arm powered by vision.

In looking ahead to the next 100 years, Carter spoke to Oshawa continuing to innovate in the fields of energy, health care, education and transportation, as well as emerging technologies such as AI, cyber security, and electric and autonomous vehicles.

A prevailing theme in his address to business leaders Thursday was the resiliency of the residents, who have faced hardship and struggle in the past as well as today but continue to think positively about the future.

“The DNA and the resiliency that our community continues to show day in and day out makes me so proud,” he said.

He cited the two-year closure of the General Motors plant as an example of that attitude. “They didn’t know what tomorrow would bring, but they knew we would not turn our backs on them,” he said abut the closure that ended when the plant re-opened in December 2022. “Oshawa never gave up on themselves.”

Carter touched on the negative stereotypes about the city in his speech, citing the television show Ted Lasso for its attention to many issues relatable to Oshawa residents, including being unfairly judged by outsiders.

He talked about the lakefront Jubilee Pavilion and Oshawa’s music history, and about the state-of-the art health care and research facilities and “amazing amenities”.in the city.

“We are the great City of Oshawa because of our rich heritage and what we have accomplished together. It is because of you – Oshawa’s leaders past and present – that we have achieved so much and have many great stories to tell.”

Carter remains passionate about the city and its future and closed his address to the sold-out crowd with a message about building on a century of success as Oshawa looks to the future.

“I look forward to the next 100 years,” joked the grandfather of six. “The best days are always in front of us.”

Oshawa will officially celebrate its centennial as a city on March 8.

The mayor’s State of the City address is available to view on the City’s YouTube channel.

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