Saturday, July 19, 2008

Is Oshawa A War Zone?

City Hall---Blow it up!

North Oshawa Arena---Blow it up!

Civic Auditorium---Blow it up!

Harmon Park Arena---Blow it up!

Children’s Arena---Blow it up!

The historic and architecturally significant Rundle House---Blow it Up! It doesn’t matter that it was featured on the city’s brochure, “Historical Walking Tours.”

We have political leadership in Oshawa that has a “Johnny-one-note” philosophy, “Blow it up!”

This council and their bureaucratic advisors are blind to any alternative except search and destroy. "Blow it up!"

There’s so much destruction of public facilities in Oshawa, it’s like we’re in a war zone! It seems Oshawa City Council is blowing up everything in sight and compounding debt upon debt in this most heavily taxed part of the GTA.

It seems we have more destruction of public buildings in Oshawa than you’d find in Afghanistan. We are in all likelihood approaching re-construction debts equivalent to theirs. And still the politicians continue to spend like drunken sailors. They spend millions to destroy our facilities rather than amortizing these same amounts into their future operating and maintenance costs.

And this crew of incompetents has protected themselves from public outrage being expressed through the ballot box by introducing the general vote to protect their political futures.

Let’s look at the reasons they’ve given for their decisions.

City Hall

The Spin

We’re told that the roof leaks, we need a customer service center, and that the building is not handicapped accessible.

The Truth

Politicians want more palatial office space for themselves and senior bureaucrats, more palatial council chambers, and a plaque listing their names for posterity on the project.

They claim ongoing maintenance costs while negating these costs in every building including brand new buildings.

These maintenance costs are insignificant compared to the rapidly escalating $14.5 million plus interest on the new construction.

The leaking roof (if this is true) and the accessibility issue are simple maintenance items.

While peeking in the customer service area while in city hall the other day, I didn’t see phones ringing off the hook but did see a lot of idle chatter in the minimally staffed department. When was the last time you phoned city hall? This is a glorified answering service which will result in calls being directed to departmental experts without any staff reductions in those sites.

As for the leaking roof, a Toronto Raptor game at the Air Canada Centre last winter had to be periodically interrupted to wipe up water from roof leakage.

News reports say Buckingham Palace also has leaky roofs, peeling paint, and electrical and asbestos problems. Now, I wonder whether these problems are being repaired…or will did the powers that be follow Oshawa’s model and demolish and rebuild.

Even Parliament Hill is too costly for the taxpayers to maintain and should be "blown up". Let's put Oshawa City Council in charge of making this decision for Canadians.

The Arenas

The Civic, Children’s Arena, Harman Park Arena are all under study for demolition. North Oshawa Arena has already been demolished at a cost in excess of $1,000,000.

The Spin

We’re told that we have a surplus of ice space in Oshawa and that the maintenance costs of the “old” buildings does not justify their existence.

The Truth

An internet search shows the 51 City of Toronto arenas average 42.6 years of age with five close to 60 years old, and there's not been a word about destroying any of these!

The Civic (1964), Harmon Park Arena (1970’s), Children’s Arena (1956), North Oshawa Arena (1960’s) are all “young” when compared with Toronto’s where they recently built their first arena in 30 years.

I was in Children’s Arena, Harmon Park Arena, and The Civic recently and noted their spotless and well maintained conditions.

These rinks are irreplaceable “neighbourhood” resources providing accessible recreation opportunities in these older areas for children less able to travel to out-of-area facilities. Political decisions centralizing arenas to the newer and richer areas (except for Donovan which is being preserved) are once again depriving children from South Oshawa and the densely populated Nonquon area the same opportunities as being provided to the newer and richer neighbourhoods.

For many years, vast areas of Oshawa were neglected under the General Vote Council and with the return of the general vote, politicians are now once again working to deprive vast areas of the city of community recreational facilities…in the very places they are needed most. Under the General Vote these areas will have no council representative to speak up on their behalf to insure that all areas of the city are serviced.

The most important point about arena facilities is that they should be strategically placed and equally accessible to residents of all parts of the city.

We are also the fastest growing part of the GTA and if we presently have surplus ice, this may not be the case in short order as the city rapidly expands.

And once again, raising ongoing maintenance costs for the older areas is a spurious argument since ongoing maintenance and opportunity costs accrue even to the newest facilities like GM centre (which generates losses of millions of dollars per year when interest expenses on its $45 million loan are topped up by the half million $ yearly operating losses).

Show me politicians anywhere in the country, if not the universe, who would level and rebuild their complete inventory of ice arenas in one fell swoop in a 5 or 6 year period and I will show you a bunch of fools unfit to govern.

If you are disturbed by Oshawa’s demolition of our arena facilities, you can sign the petition to save Oshawa Arenas.

Rundle House

At a time when the world celebrates it’s history and heritage, it is abhorrent that we lose this treasure. Compare Oshawa’s main street with Port Perry, Port Hope, Unionville, Cobourg, and a myriad of others that treasure and enhance their image by preserving their architecture. In Oshawa, we "blow them up" in attempts to replicate our embarrassing South Simcoe city entrance in other parts of the city.

I have been told on good authority by a sitting member of the city council appointed Oshawa Historical Society that city council could have easily saved this building by designating it a "heritage site" but that they didn't have the political will to do so. They bowed to the wishes of the hospital board rather than the interests of the city of Oshawa.

A number of alternative sites had been identified for the cancer hospice by interested parties and I have in my possession a letter*** from Victor Fiume, President of the Durham Region Homebuilder's Association which in a meeting with the hospital board offered to renovate the Rundle House suitable for the hospital use with "little or no cost" to the Hospital Foundation. Hospital Board members indicated they had no interest in saving Rundle House and thus the DRHBA funded an alternative project, a $400,000 renovation and major expansion of Hearth Place. (link to letter will be included once I arrange the letter to be scanned and hosted on the internet)

A photo video of all of these “bomb sites” is being prepared for posterity and will be appended to this story upon its completion.

We need reminders of the mentality of this council as we approach the next election when hopefully most of the bums will be turfed out of office.