Oshawa Mayor advocating on behalf of downtown businesses; believes future looks bright for beleagured downtown

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Published February 4, 2022 at 4:01 pm

With downtown businesses of all sizes suffering through nearly two years of shutdown and restrictions, Oshawa Mayor Dan Carter says the City is doing everything it can to help them get back on their feet again.

“Businesses like yours are an essential component of Oshawa’s dynamic and diverse neighbourhoods and their sustainability is a critical pillar of our community,” he said, adding he is working with the Mayor’s Economic Recovery Task Force, the Greater Oshawa Chamber of Commerce and the Downtown Oshawa Business Alliance to “advocate and assist in any way possible to help mitigate the financial losses that businesses are continuing to endure during this difficult period.”

Carter, on behalf of Oshawa Council, has initiated a letter writing campaign to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Premier Doug Ford requesting that both levels of government continue to offer and expand on programs to assist in economic recovery.  These programs include wage subsidies, programs to cover lost revenues and rent subsidies, while also considering other immediate and long-term measures to assist affected businesses.

“We continue to take immediate action to assist our small and community-owned businesses that have been hardest hit by the economic impacts of COVID-19,” adding assistance is of “critical importance” for businesses in downtown Oshawa.

Oshawa Economic Development Services has also launched a campaign to support impacted businesses, with a summary of Municipal, Provincial and Federal supports, grants and incentives available on the  Mayor’s Economic Recovery Task Force page.

“We are encouraging the business community to reach out directly to Economic Development Services at [email protected] or (905) 436-5617 for pandemic support. We’re here to connect you to the resources that matter to your business.”

Other initiatives launched by the City included the Oshawa Loves Local Campaign, a holiday-themed push at the end of 20121 that featured a series of highlight videos demonstrating the benefits of buying from local business; and Downtown Oshawa’s Instagram Re-Launch, which saw the City promote tourism, shopping and downtown dining experiences through the social media channel.

Carter said the video content on the Oshawa Loves Local campaign alone received more than 150,000 impressions with positive feedback.

“Now more than ever, it is important for us to support local and buy local whenever we can. We’re encouraging residents to make a difference by purchasing from local businesses online, dining out at home by ordering takeout from a local restaurant, and purchasing gift certificates now to use later.”

Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, Oshawa continued to see strong economic growth across multiple sectors which resulted in the second-highest total construction value on record in 2021 at $564,582,600. To complement the rapid (and record) pace of residential growth, $51.5 million in Commercial, $36.6 million in Industrial and $8.5 million in Governmental/Institutional permits were also issued.

And while residents have long been concerned with socio-economic problems in Oshawa’s downtown – and are convinced the pandemic has made the situation worse – the city’s Mayor is still a believer, and, in fact, waxed poetic about it.

“Our city’s core is the heart and soul of our community.  Our downtown is a unique urban environment in our region with incredible potential (as well as) a cultural and entertainment hub, major employment district and a significant asset within the eastern GTA,” he said. “The City’s downtown revitalization strategy aims to leverage those features in order to create a unique downtown experience that is centered around people, with an emphasis on social gathering spaces. We continue to strive towards creating a vibrant, attractive and animated downtown where people come together to live, work, shop, learn, meet and engage.”

Down the road, Carter said the Economic Development department will be launching a monthly newsletter and looks forward to the 2022 Sidewalk Patio Program, the fourth phase of the King Street Streetscape Program and downtown window signage for businesses featured in downtown of Durham.

He is also looking forward to the return of festivals and events to downtown Oshawa, subject to the loosening of provincial protocols, of course.

“I fully support and embrace the resumption of events and festivals in the City to create a space for our community to connect, explore and enjoy while supporting the businesses that benefit from the enhanced attendance,” he said. “The ability to host large scale community events has been impacted with the ongoing restrictions resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, but I look forward to 2022 bringing Kars on King, Summer in the City, amongst other events, back to the Downtown.”

It’s been a tough couple of years, Carter added, but 2022 is going to give downtown businesses a chance to put the past behind them and look to a bright future.

“As we chart a path forward, we are incredibly proud of our business community. You have faced down a historic challenge, made significant sacrifices and exemplified a resiliency that the City of Oshawa is known for. You are not on this journey alone. We are here to support you. Together, we will recover stronger than ever.”

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