Is the Downtown Streetscape Study Killing Downtown Oakville

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Is the Downtown Streetscape Study Killing Downtown Oakville
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Nolan A Machan

Nolan A Machan

Nolan Machan is the Publisher of OakvilleNews.Org and has over 41 years of local Oakville knowledge. He is committed to providing Oakville residents with the most up-to-date information about our great town.

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Over the past few years, town council with Mayor Rob Burton at the helm, decided that since Lakeshore Road East from Navy to Allan needed to be dug up, that this would be a perfect time to rejuvenate the streetscape of Downtown Oakville.

This entailed hiring engineers, planners, consultants for the entire downtown, since it was believed to be the right time to look at the entire downtown at one time, so a cultural study was implemented as well.

The plan kept morphing from the necessary changes into “what if we did this” scenario, all the while using tax payers money and town resources. So now the plan includes changing all the streetscapes, creating flexible streets – ie ones with out curbs (Navy & George above Lakeshore), to changing one way streets to two way streets, adding dedicated bike lanes, and sharrows. It was also decided that we should repurpose all the culture facilities in Centennial Square, create an Art Gallery and Central Library in the old Post Office Building. The price tag for all of these ideas ranges from $35,000,000 to over $100,000,000.

There is no denying that the infrastructure lying beneath Lakeshore Road needs to be replaced. Like most things it has a due date and it has been reached. However, almost all the necessary work that must be done underground is not the responsibility of the Town of Oakville, but rather it is the responsibility of Halton Region, the utility companies, and telecom companies.  The town is responsible for the road bed which also must be replaced.

What was supposed to be a final report to town council by planning for the Downtown Streetscape and Transportation study on March 11, turned into even more changes. This is all happening as downtown Oakville’s vacancy rates hit an all-time high. Even the Toronto Star wrote an article about the decline of Downtown Oakville.

Two bike groups made presentations that sharrows along Lakeshore were just not enough for the biking community, even though dedicated bike lanes would be available on Church and Robinson streets. Then we heard from a couple of businesses who are extremely concerned about parking and are advocating a parking garage which is supposedly going to cost $23,000,0000. The garage is not in the 10 year capital budget, nor is the replacement of Lakeshore. That will not be decided until this fall. The only thing that is in the capital budget is for detailed engineering drawings for Lakeshore Road.

When Councillor and Budget Chair Tom Adams asked if the cost of $9,000,000 was for the entire project, he was told that it is only for replacing Lakeshore Road, and that there is no budget for the rest of the plan. Those extra changes which have been designed may in fact never happen.

The final report was made available to the public the Friday before the meeting, which did not give people adequate time to look at the full report. Even the Director of the Downtown Oakville BIA indicated that the newly elected board wanted more time to look through the recommendations.

Finally, we heard from just one landlord, who clearly indicated that he was getting major tenants walking away from his properties, because they felt there wasn’t enough foot traffic and that would be alleviated by creating adequate parking. The landlord also cited that another major deterrent  was due to the fact that there is no definite time table for the start and completion of the reconstruction of Lakeshore Road. It appears that landlords and retailers need to have a time line before prospective tenants will sign a lease.

After three and a half hours no decision was reached by council, other than more meetings would be required which have been set for April  13 and possibly 14, 2015 at Town Hall.

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Readers Comments (8)

  1. Lorraine Quast says:

    Most of the buildings in downtown Oakville are owned by three individuals. They refuse to negotiate rents with tenants and consequently, we have more than 30 empty buildings on Lakeshore Rd where there should be thriving businesses. These individuals claim the empty spaces as tax right offs. There is no incentive for them to rent. As such downtown Oakville is becoming a ghost town. The Most Liveable Town: hardly!

     Reply
  2. Joe Lane says:

    2 things, 1. Government is, and always will be very wasteful with tax payer dollars. They should be paid for performance and not wasting money, cut politicians pay in half and put the other half as bonus for production and efficiency and see what would happen. No more waste of tax payers dollars if it affected their salary.I wouldn`t expect anything great from Oakville council to say the least. 2. It seems crazy to let all those spaces go empty and ruin the downtown Oakville shopping experience. If a tax write off is what these owners need, I am sure renting at a lower rental rate. or even renting it at a loss still would provide tax benefits, but keep the Downtown Oakville a success story and not a failure. So I am unsure what the read deal is there. But it`s very sad to see so many businesses open and close downtown.

     Reply
  3. Jim Cox says:

    The properties were bought at inflated prices and their tax assessment is therefore at an inflated level, thousands of dollars per month. As these destination shopping businesses, like Grigorian, move on, and as the mall is renovated, why would anyone come downtown and pay for parking to browse empty storefronts.

     Reply
  4. Jerry Scott Mills says:

    Lemme get this right: After two decades of once-functional, shoppable, parkable, rentable, affordable Downtown Oakville being destroyed by landlords who systematically evicted the local stores and restaurants for fatter rents from a fickle wave of departed Big Brand tenants… that same bunch want the social and economic havoc they caused to be reversed at taxpayer expense by teams of Engineers and Contractors. Apparently no-one in the Big Oakville Development Club recognizes irony when they mouth it.

     Reply
  5. Jerry Scott Mills says:

    The solution is quick, simple, viable and inexpensive: The Town of Oakville can move to expropriate these latent, fallow, tax-avoiding properties for “Affordable Future Commercial Usage.” That’ll put the ‘cat among the pigeons’ and induce alternative options pronto, if not sooner.

     Reply
  6. John McLaughlin says:

    Town Council has no “strategic” plan or economic vision, for Oakville business or residents. Perpetual tax increases are necessary to fund the 1 million dollars Council spends daily, with no money left for downtown (which will become a shuttered landscape), plus it owes another $200 million to fund the hospital contribution.

    Perhaps Tom Adams can address those structural issues – Council created.

     Reply
  7. Elizabeth M. Prescott says:

    I would like to see this article along with the comments a MUST READ for our Town of Oakville employees, all of them. Especially those in Planning, Parking, Town Council and the Mayor’s office.

     Reply
  8. ray paxman says:

    mayor burton is a liberal like all liberals they cant be trusted

     Reply



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