Oshawa to debate moving back to public council meetings after Columbus technical foul-up

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Published December 10, 2021 at 1:08 pm

The City of Oshawa may be moving back to open Council meetings soon – or at least a hybrid of in-person and electronic participation – after Columbus residents were effectively excluded from a meeting in October because of technical glitches.

The October 28 meeting – scheduled to discuss the development future of the hamlet in north Oshawa – was deemed “electronically inaccessible and/or intermittently accessible” to the public, “despite the best efforts of all to accommodate,” leaving Columbus residents unable to participate in a “fulsome” public meeting.

The meeting, the public portion of a planning study and an environmental assessment of the Columbus area, will be re-scheduled using the hybrid participation model to provide public engagement in an “accountable and transparent manner.”

Specific objectives of the Study include:

  • facilitate the future development of the Columbus Planning Area;
  • advance development, including the minimum population and job density targets, while emphasizing “sustainable development” and the protection and enhancement of environmental and natural features;
  • protection of Highway 407 East corridor for employment uses; and
  • Advance development of the Columbus Planning Area that is sensitive to the historic community of Columbus.

The Study Area is generally bounded by Howden Road to the north, the Oshawa-Whitby boundary to the west, Winchester Road to the south and the east branch of the Oshawa Creek to the east.

Council will also debate the merit of opening the floor to public participation for all meetings going forward at this Monday’s Council meeting.

With pandemic protocols relaxed for room capacity, Oshawa Council will vote on holding future Council and Committee meetings under the hybrid framework, with virtual and live-person councillors and the public in attendance in accordance with COVID regulations.

With the Omicron variant now present in Durham and COVID-19 cases on the rise – new daily cases nearly doubled on Wednesday – there may be some intense debate on the motion Monday.

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