Oshawa Landmark Sign campaign given extension after just $3,150 raised towards $500,000 goal

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Published June 6, 2023 at 5:03 pm

Oshawa landmark sign concept

A campaign to raise as much as half a million dollars to build a landmark sign in time for Oshawa’s centenary celebrations next year has stalled badly, with a deadline of June 1 to raise three-quarters of that sum now come and gone, with the fundraising total at $3,150.

A delegation from the Oshawa Sign Committee was at the Economic and Development Services committee asking for an extension. Ron Bremmer told committee it was “a little early” to think about the terminating the project, noting that fundraising efforts were “out of synch” with corporate budget cycles.

“We’ve really only had four months to do this and it’s been an uphill battle,” he said, adding that public support has been not as strong as hoped. “The average citizen has no appetite for a project like this in times of scarcity.”

Brenner said fundraising efforts of the Oshawa Sign Team are moving away from a focus on broader public donations and are now being focused on companies and corporations, and with most business budgets being determined in the fall, he hoped the city would be agreeable to an extension.

The new deadline approved by committee Monday is:

  • 75 per cent of the $500,000 target by January 31, 2024; and,
  • 100 per cent of the $500,000 target by March 8, 2024, representing the City’s 100th anniversary as a City

Bremmer also pointed out that the $500,000 figure had a “chilling effect” on residents and was confident the group could make the sign project happen for less. He said he wasn’t able to pin-point exactly what the sign would cost without a detailed design, but he did mention ‘$375,000’ a couple of times during his presentation.

A staff report also acknowledged there was “a level of misunderstanding” during the early days of the fundraising campaign, with residents assuming it was taxpayer-funded and expressing negative comments to media outlets and that funding could be “targeted towards more pressing social or infrastructure needs throughout the city.”

The Oshawa Sign Team, with help from City staff will work on acquiring grants to push the campaign forward between now and the fall.

Bremner, a veteran media consultant, said last year when Oshawa Council gave its support in principle for the campaign that 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.”

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